Summer is the time for kids to run around and ride their bikes and play like puppies till the moon shoos them home.
Unless, that is, they’re living in the Eagle Place Townhomes, in Lafayette, Colo. There, no children are allowed to play outside, unsupervised, until age 16.
That’s right. No kids. Outside. Without an adult. Period.
That’s the new written rule at the 60-home complex, and can you guess the reason given? Of course you can! You can recite it in your sleep! Quoth the property
manager, “We just want the kids to
A piece in Boulder’s paper, the
Daily Camera, details the “ghost town” the development has become. Said one dad, “It feels like a prison.” Another said he has received letters from the management company saying his 5- and 8-year-old kids can’t ride their scooters OR play on the grass between units OR play on the property’s playground without an adult present. Before this new rule, up to 30 kids would get together and play.
Playing on a playground? Can’t have that.
Eagle Place management even forbids a 15-year-old from reading a book on his porch swing. Talk about your proactive danger management. The young man’s 12- year-old sister baby-sits in the complex. Now she is forbidden to take her young wards outside to play. (Quick aside: Did you read what’s becoming the latest childhood danger? Rickets! Soft bones! From vitamin D deficiency. From SUN deficiency. From kids inside too much! But … back to our regularly scheduled column.)
The impetus for the 16-or-older rule seems to be twofold. One: Management says that children are vandalizing the property. And two: Recently a child got his foot stuck in an air conditioning unit, and his parents couldn’t be reached. Instead, 911 was called. So management wrote in a letter to the residents, “Each time we find a child unattended they will be instructed to go home until an adult can accompany them outside.”
As bizarre as all this sounds, it is not the first time I’ve heard of such Draconian laws. Other parents in other states are dealing with them, too — and I’m not talking about retiree developments that specifically want nothing to do with kids. I’m talking plain old all-American neighborhoods.
What’s terrifying is that this is what “all-American” may become: neighborhoods so safe — at least from lawsuits — that the kids are locked inside or shuttled from supervised activity to supervised activity.
Of course, that sounds a lot like what America is becoming even without bylaws like the ones at Eagle Place. So much for our soaring spirit of adventure. The Eagle has, indeed, landed. It’s inside, playing video games and eating a Fruit Roll-Up.
Lenore Skenazy is the author of “Who’s the Blonde That Married What’s-His-Name? The Ultimate Tip-of-the-Tongue Test of Everything You Know You Know — But Can’t Remember Right Now” and “Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry.”
©2009 Creators Syndicate