On the way home I heard an NPR report about a new initiative to fight childhood obesity and I had two thoughts: man, that’s sad and I’m glad I’ve started on some lifestyle changes. One of the quotes from Michelle Obama was for parents to think back to when we were kids and we spent recesses running around and literally weren’t allowed to come in the house until it was time for dinner.

I loved it and thought about how on the weekends and during full days of free time, I always send the boy outside with strict instructions not to return unless he’s hungry. If I didn’t do this, he’d sit in front of the TV or computer. That’s no way for a kid to grow up. Sure kids who use computers regularly have higher reading aptitudes, but too much computer time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. That’s not what I want for my boy.

The thing is that with the paranoia about pedifiles and the safety police on high alert most of the time, it can be hard for free-rangers like myself to allow kids the freedom they need to be active. And if you can’t afford to (or simply don’t want to schedule every moment of your child’s activity) pay for extracurricular like t-ball and karate, finding active options can be difficult.

What we need to do is bring back that village mentality where parents in the same neighborhood knew each other and looked out for each other’s kids and kids were free to roam their respective neighborhoods without the parents being accused of being neglectful. I’m fortunate to live in an area where the kids (and parents) are given just this freedom. Sure the kids get into trouble sometimes, but mostly, they just play and respect the responsibility that comes with their long leashes.

So here’s to a return of parental and childhood freedom. And to the healthy lifestyle that is being a free-range kid.