Playful shenanigans

Are you familiar with Lenore Skenazy and her blog (and book) called Free-Range Kids?

If you’re not, you should be. She’s awesome, and she’s all about letting kids be kids.

When it comes to raising children (and a whole host of other things that I won’t get into right now), our society is losing common sense faster than, than, than…I don’t know—that pipe was spewing oil into the gulf? I lose my temper? The ozone is disappearing? Real fast is what I mean, and it’s not a good thing, either. Lenore is one woman who has her head screwed on straight and she is making a valiant attempt to stick her finger into the dyke of anxiety and fear that is threatening to destroy us all.

There. How’s that for some melodrama on a Monday afternoon?

To hear her state her case and answer some common concerns and questions, watch this interview. She’s a fast talker, a wild gesticulator, bubbly and smart; in other words, totally endearing.

So, with a head nod in Lenore’s general direction, here are some recent shenanigans from my hooligans.

Shenanigan Number One: the vertical swing/trapeze

I’m not quite sure how it works, but it involves ropes and altitude and upper body strength.

Now it’s big sister-in-a-red-sequined-skirt’s turn.

Once she gets up high, little brother grabs the other ropes and sets her a-swinging.

Think I could sell them to the circus?

Shenanigan Number Two: the super-duper wheelie trick

Hook a cable (or pulley or something circular and metallic) to a tree and a rope to the cable and a bike to the rope. While staying on the bike, pull yourself (and subsequently the bike) up with the rope.

Look at the porch to make sure your mom is getting a good shot of your incredible prowess…

and then gratefully lower the bike back down.


Shenanigan Number Three: the stunted zip-line

Hook one end of a cable (pulley? something circular and metallic?)-sporting rope to the swing set. Hook the other end to a tree. Climb up so you can reach the cable at the higher end of the rope, jump off, and sail down till your butt runs aground.

Note: No parents supervised these games and no children were injured.

This same time, years previous: a touchy subject: my thoughts on spanking, the donut party: part one (We’re hosting it again in two weeks! Wish us luck, or better yet, come help!)


  • katie

    I love the things your kids come up with, whether it is technically savvy things like these or just the wild items that become clothes. Maybe wild isn't te right word, but whatever is the right word, their creativity makes me smile and laugh. And anticipate the day my kids do the same.

    I was away for work his past weekend and my husband snapped a picture of my 16 month-old's newest trick — climbing up and down a step ladder:

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    I have heard of Lenore, but didn't know much about her. I watched the video and, to be honest, was a little shocked about the fact they let their 9 year old ride the subway alone. Maybe it's because *I'm* afraid of the subway!

    Beyond that, I agreed with everything that woman said. Her points about TV/media and everyone becoming "lawyers" are dead on. Thanks for the link.

    I find your children highly entertaining and that's a compliment.

  • Anonymous

    I love Lenore and enjoyed her book. When I see pics of your kids doing things like that ladder on the swing set I always think of free-range parenting. We're pretty laid back around here and have gotten some really interesting looks and comments from others. I've been yelled at by neighbors for letting my child play on the sidewalk in front of the house (we have no backyard to speak of). She's not even three, I'm right there watching her. I just smile and nod.

  • Kaytee

    Your kids are so funny! How do they come up with these things? I wish I had the resources and imagination your kids have when I was young!

  • Jennifer Jo

    Bike helmets? Absolutely. Lenore is COMPLETELY in support of keeping children safe—car seats, seat belts, bike helmets, life jackets, etc. Just no bubble-wrapped table corners, please.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    Ha! One of our friends has a yard with all sorts of non-regulation play items, including a zip line, a dangerous jungle gym, a rope bridge…all of which are enjoyed by the kids when they aren't all tooling around in the golf cart her husband acquired. We always joke that she should have people sign waivers before they let their kids play in her yard.

    But helmets when bicycling? I'm sorry – those are essential. I hope Lenore isn't against those. My daughter was riding around our tot lot at top speed and slammed into a bench. She hit the pavement on her side and her helmet cracked. I'm grateful she was wearing it.

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