09 March 2010

Child liberation front

Recently we entered the age of indentured servitude, followed quickly by put the youngest to bed and babysit yourselves.

The evidence is clear; a new era of child rearing is upon us, and we are exploring the contours of the terrain.

Since toilet training, Sacha is marginally less insane, enough that I can leave him in Sarah's care for short periods of time. This means that I now have the luxury of stopping at the market, or doing a carpool run unencumbered.

With this small change, the accumulated pedestrian acts that strung together, form my days, have been transformed into something remarkable.

My children have been in school long enough that having time to myself is not unusual. Yet time to myself while they are home alone is something else entirely. It feels slightly transgressive to leave them on their own, with no qualified child care professional in sight, and stranger still that no money changes hands upon my return. I find it so thrilling that it takes great restraint to keep from approaching strangers in the market and whispering conspiratorially that I have three children, and none of them are with me.

When my children were tiny, I imagined that doing anything without them in tow would be akin to phantom limb syndrome, my heart aching with the pang of their absence. Instead I feel an insatiable longing to make up for ten years of lost alone time.

Lest I become concerned that my behavior is cause for concern about the depth of my maternal attachment, I take comfort in knowing that my children also delight in their independence. They beg to be left alone, and I am impressed with their maturity. Last week, as I left to take Sacha to karate I reminded Sarah and Gabriel that they would need to practice their instruments before the end of the day. I returned home to find Sarah strumming her guitar,  and Gabriel playing piano, and my heart swelled to burst.

Never one to be left behind, Sacha now asks me if he can stay home alone rather than run errands with me. I do my best to keep a straight face while saying no. There is a fine line between responsibility and recklessness, and tempting as it is, I try to stay well away from the edge.

This new found freedom is so completely intoxicating, and dangerously addictive. It's a bit like love sickness, a temporary state of madness spurred by a radical shift to more free time. And so I ration myself, lest I wind up believing that it is not too soon to teach Sarah to drive.


  1. Amen, sister. (Now if only mine would independently remove their dirty socks & underwear.)

  2. I read your post with some confusion, as it seems to have more to do with parent liberation (from their children), and nothing to do with child rights, which is what the title suggests.
    I am not suggesting you are neglectful. Parents -most parents- have a need to have time away from their children, time to be themselves and pursue their own interests apart from their children's lives (although being a part of my own child's life was for me a continuing adventure and is the most fulfilling aspect of my often exciting life, and I do not desire "my own space" at all (and nor does he).
    My son is quite attached to me. Nevertheless, I am quite devoted to the idea of child liberation in the sense of children being granted their essential human rights.
    Currently the society in which we live denies children most basic rights, and seems to not even be cognizant of the fact.
    If one is interested children as a cruelly oppressed minority, and in the issues involved, I suggest reading the child rights section of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    As an aside, the term "Child Liberation Front" has been used by a number of organizations, including boylovers campaigning for the sexual liberation of children, as well as several organizations of children fighting for their own rights: one attached to the Indianner Kommune; one attached to Project TRUTH; and perhaps others.