Free-range kid meets the LIRR…

Remember Izzy, son of columnist Lenore Skenazy and the free-range kid who was allowed to go home all by his lonesome on the NYC transportation system (oh, the horror!)?

Mom allowed him to go on the Long Island Railroad unaccompanied…and it wasn’t pretty:

Ho ho ho, my child was escorted off the Long Island Railroad today for riding without an adult. The police were called. He’s 10.

He – Izzy — has ridden this route solo a dozen times before. It’s a straight shot on a commuter train and, as always, he was being met at the other end by his friend’s family. But today’s conductor was appalled to see a boy riding alone.

For some reason, the conductor wouldn’t talk to me, even though Izzy called from the train when the ordeal began. The man had no interest in hearing me state what Izzy had already been telling him: We believe a child of 10 is perfectly capable of taking a half hour journey by himself.

Well, so do I. And I think infantilizing kids by considering 10 too young to ride on a train alone does them absolutely no favors.

What a messed-up world we live in!

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3 Responses

  1. Apparently the MTA – which *runs* the LIRR – agrees with you. Their standard age for “being able to ride the rails alone” is eight. Eight!

    And even I think eight is a little young for trains, though just the right age for point to point bus travel, with mom to put you on and either school or another grown-up at the end.

  2. My father was eleven when he joined a resistance movement against German occupation of his country. If you’re old enough to fight the good fight, you’re old enough ride the LIRR.

  3. Geez, I was travelling on airplanes (WITH layovers!) at that age! I even have a lovely story where, at around 12, my first flight was late, causing me to miss my second. Not only was I able to get to the customer service desk and argue them into booking me a new flight to get me home, I was even able to manage hanging out in a hotel for two days waiting for it.

    While my parents would have never heard the term “free range kid,” I was definitely raised that way. I got lost, I hurt myself, I panicked sometimes. And honestly, I’m glad for every one of those negative experiences.

    I do think that safety needs to be considered. My parents, for example, would always be at the airport to pick me up. When travelling, I would always be given all our hotel information and a little money in case I got lost. My parents always made sure that I could never get [i]really[/i] hurt or [i]really[/i] lost. But as long as parents aren’t being neglectful, it’s absolutely horrid that they shouldn’t be allowed to let their children out of the house without constant supervision. How will kids grow up if they’ve never had to solve problems by themselves? Do we expect them to suddenly turn into capable and confident adults on their 18th birthdays?

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