People keep saying that parents these days helicopter too much and don’t let kids play freely outside. This is wildly exaggerated because I constantly see kids playing outside unsupervised both around the neighborhood and at the park.

Here is the problem, though. Yesterday, I was driving down my street when two little girls – aged about 4 and 6, I’d say – rolled down their driveway and right under the wheels of my car. It was quite unpredictable because one minute they were in the driveway and another they shot right into the road. I was driving at the speed of 1 mph (because of the shaggy white dog who runs around unleashed and jumps under the wheels), so I easily stopped. The girls found the whole thing entertaining.

But what if somebody drives through who doesn’t know the neighborhood and is not aware of the shaggy dog situation? This could have ended badly. The other day, a delivery truck almost hit me.

It’s another question altogether why people stubbornly refuse to spend time in the backyards and let kids and dogs play there instead of driveways. We are a region where everybody is maniacally obsessed with driveways.

8 thoughts on “Helicoptering”

  1. I don’t know what the space looks like, exactly, but it’s a public space, I guess? You can see and be seen from a driveway, you cannot from a backyard.


  2. “everybody is maniacally obsessed with driveways”

    A couple of possibilities, I think in the 1980s child-sex-abuse-hysteria the idea was that backyards were more dangerous (more places for abductors to hide). It doesn’t make sense to me but that’s what I’m kind of remembering.

    Also, in American houses I think the kitchen and living rooms (where adults spend more time) are more likely to have views to the front than to the back yard… so it’s easier (in theory) to monitor kid play in front….


  3. It could depend on whether their backyard is fenced or not. My sister and I played unsupervised almost exclusively in our fenced backyard. Though when I was seven or so I started rollerblading a lot, which requires sidewalks. The dogs are only ever unsupervised in the backyard, and even then we keep an eye on them from the windows if we’re not out there ourselves.

    Play in the driveways, in my experience, almost always involved either a basketball or a jump rope or chalk. And that was always supervised when I was little. It doesn’t even require a lot. Just someone sitting outside. And the people who let their dogs just wander are insane. I have a neighbor with unfriendly dogs who just lets them out at night, because she “can’t control them all on a walk.” Well, guess what? My dog thinks every encounter with another dog is a big game, but she will defend herself if that other dog gets aggressive. It’s dangerous for both dogs, and it’s dangerous for the people who are responsibly walking their dog on a leash. Even if the off-leash dog is friendly, you can’t just assume that the leashed dog is, too. Let alone the risk of the dog getting hit by a car.

    I’m sorry for ranting. I’m done now. Some people are just incredibly stupid. You could always see if you can speak to the girls’ parents and tell them how close they could have come to getting run over. The kids need to know that behavior is risky, and has consequences.


    1. I have no idea what the dog’s owner is thinking. At least, with these girls it was a one-time thing. But the dog is giving the whole neighborhood anxiety attacks. The owner keeps apologizing and agreeing that yes, she should put him on the leash. But then it’s back to normal.


  4. https://letgrow.org/hoppin-down-the-paper-trail-waiver-needed-for-kids-at-easter-egg-hunt/

    “””Before the tykes were ushered toward the roped-off grass, parents stood in line for up to half an hour to hand in the official form for the “25th Annual Easter Egg Hunt and Learning Festival.” (God forbid the kids just have fun.) According to the waiver, the undersigned agreed that “Participation in The Activity carries with it certain risks that cannot be eliminated regardless of the care taken to avoid injuries.” These risks ranged from “1) minor injuries, such as scratches, bruises and sprains 2) major injuries such as eye injury or loss of sight, joint or back injuries, heart attacks, and concussions to 3) catastrophic injuries including paralysis and death.””””


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