Hey, Lenore Skenazy has come up with the greatest moneymaking scheme this side of the Underpants Gnomes. The columnist who let her 9-year-old son take the subway BY HIMSELF and then suggested leaving kids in the park by themselves has a new program for parents: Pay $350 to drop off your kids at a Central Park playground and she won't watch them.
Skenazy has been touting "free range parenting" as an antidote to today's helicopter parenting where anxious parents aren't letting kids figure things out for themselves. In fact, Skenazy has argued that children are now being deprived of actual play! So here are the details from her website:
Our first session is Weds., Sept 12. Ages 8-18 welcome. We’ll meet at the entrance to the “Ancient Playground” in Central Park, at 85th St. and Fifth Ave., at 3:45 p.m. I’ll be there to say hi — then I’m off to sip my latte. Kids can be picked up at 5:15, or they can head home on their own — it’s up to you. (And them!) If your child owns a watch, have him/her wear it. Otherwise, the kids can ask folks what time it is. While many people think that children being someplace with “strangers all around” is dangerous, actually it means there are people all around who can help if anything goes wrong. Central Park is the safest precinct in New York, which is the safest large city in the country.
Parents must sign a waiver that absolves me of anything and everything — see the name of this class! — and payment is $350 (cash or check; scholarships available for the asking) for 8 sessions: Weds. Sept 12 - Nov. 7, with a week “off” on Sept 26 for Yom Kipur. On Weds., Oct. 31 kids can play as usual, or they can go trick or treat together.
Why a fee? Well, why not? I’d love to make a living bringing kids back outside to play. But also: Parents are used to paying for classes. Pay for something and you put it on your calendar. It’s a commitment. And when you pay, you expect to get something in return.
We imagine some members of the media might lurk around, making it semi-supervised, but maybe it's worth noting that a man allegedly groped a child in one of the bathrooms at Ancient Playground last year.
Oh, and according to the NY State Office of Children and Family Services:
OCFS is often asked questions regarding the appropriate age to leave a child alone, or what age is appropriate to allow a child to begin babysitting. There are no straightforward answers to these questions. All children develop at their own rate, and with their own special needs and abilities. Some children are responsible, intelligent, and independent enough to be left alone at 12 or 13 years of age. Likewise, there are some teenagers who are too irresponsible or who have special needs that limit their ability to be safe if they are left alone.
Parents and guardians need to make intelligent, reasoned decisions regarding these matters.