map Free-Range Parent Thing

by S. Craig Renfroe Jr.

Published in Issue No. 264 ~ May, 2019

I let my kid see a pair of scissors. When he reached for them, I barely screamed at all.


Yesterday, he ate a grape that had not been halved. And it wasn’t even organic!


When we play hide and seek, he no longer has to wear the orange vest.


Against my better judgment, I introduced him to his extended family.


We’ve almost completed the laser tattoo removal of my phone number from the back of his neck.


Though I still view other children as germ-infested, screen-zombified, bullies-in-training, I have stopped saying this out loud.


He went outside without his thermal underwear a week before the start of spring.


I quit telling him my iPhone secretly records his every movement.


He’s free to read any Sandra Boynton book he wants, except for But Not the Hippopotamus.


When the preschool teacher informed me they don’t monitor them on the playground, I proudly told her I knew that already from the Ring camera I sewed into his coat and yet hadn’t sent that strongly worded email demanding her resignation.


I let him walk unaccompanied from the front door to his car seat.


I let him watch an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood all by himself.


I let him take a bath without a lifejacket.


But everything in moderation:


Do I act as arbiter between him and his friends on sandbox territorial disputes? Yes.

Do I x-ray his candy that I bought at the store? Um, yeah.

Do I let him know soccer exists? No.

Will I monitor his dreams with future technology? If only.


Microchipping all of his clothes just makes laundry easier.


What sensible parent would get rid of the cameras that secretly record his every movement?


Is the training potty seatbelt going too far? The car industry didn’t want to install them either.


Some people rib me about making him crawl around inside the house. But have you seen how tall he’s gotten? A fall from that height could do some real damage.


Am I being overprotective? Of course I am. Have you seen the world? We’re destroying it. The monsters run it. So can you just give me this?



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S. Craig Renfroe Jr. is the author of the short story collection You Should Get That Looked At (Main Street Rag Publishing Company). Currently, he is an associate professor at Queens University of Charlotte. Also, his work has appeared in Gravel, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, PANK, Hobart, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere.