Before I had children of my own,my niece, feeling a bit outdone by her sister whose kids often looked cleaner,neater and a lot more organised, described her own children as free range, albeit in an ugly sense of the word.
Now that I have my own, I’ll be honest with you, I like them the way my mom reared her chickens; free range. And since I am flying solo as a parent most of the time, except for a few days when the older one visits his dad in Maun during school holidays, I am grateful that my children, like my nieces,’ enjoy being reared free range style.
They just love to be left to their own devices as evidenced by my older son’s defiant declaration, which he made while climbing up a tall tree when he was hardly three years old. He said, “No one is going to stop me. Daddy is not going to stop me and you mummy, you are not going to spank me.”
Since then I have learnt to work the free range style as I grew to appreciate the way the children were slowly liberating me and helping me to defy that small voice that keeps telling me that I should watch them 24/7, or oth- erwise they would be in danger.
I have come to accept that I am not God, and neither is any mother out there for it is only He who is said to not slumber in His watchman role.
On weekends, when I am a full time mom, I bath them as soon as they are up, which is around 6am, feed them and let them loose outside the yard (We live in a flat in an apartment complex so we don’t have much of a yard) for them to expend their immense energy.
They run, they climb the neighbour’s fence and they roll in the dirt, getting extremely dirty most of the time, while I chill with a good book or enjoy a good TV show. From time to time they come into the house to ask for “juice mixed with water” as they call diluted drinks like Mazoe and Oros, which I often ask the five- year- old to mix, much to the boy’s delight but to the annoyance of their aunt, who just hates the mess they make whenever they are in charge of anything in the kitchen.
Recently I took my three year old to the shops to replace his broken push scooter because he enjoyed it so much that he spent a lot of time riding on it and exploring the neighbourhood, while I relaxed and did other stuff around the house, shocking some of my visiting moms who feel that a three -year -old child shouldn’t be let out of their mom’s watchful eye for that long. Instead of a scooter, the boy demanded a bicycle,
which I bought reluctantly only for it to turn out to be the best present I have given to him in a long time. The new ac- quisition caused so much attention and excitement that the boy, whom I always struggle to put to bed, was out cold that evening by a record 7 p.m.
And now with his confidence for au- tonomy boosted by a recent trip he made alone to Maun, the five- year- old has requested that he be allowed to ride the bike to school.
Am still battling whether to take that bold step and allow him to push the limits of his autonomy even further, but then there’s that voice again, that says be- cause he’ll be out of my sight, something bad could happen.
We shall see in a couple of weeks when schools start. In the meantime send com- ments and observations about what age should a child be allowed to walk or cycle to school or even cross the road on his own to [email protected]