Welcome to The Tom Sawyer Project!

Guam 88

Dear reader,

If you are actually reading these words, you may claim witness to a minor miracle.  As I, the most technologically illiterate person I know, have actually created a blog.  I am still amazed.

(If this is your first visit, you can start by reading my very first post, “Stranger Danger Craziness”, from December 2015. )

I finally took the leap because of an ever-growing concern of mine. Specifically, the direction in which I saw “kid culture” going in the United States.  Finally, my consternation overrode the static friction and techno-fear that have, until now, kept me off the grid.  However, my concern was, perhaps, not the type that comes immediately to mind.  I do not worry about my children (5 and 6 years old) being abducted by a stranger, crossing a busy street, or getting bullied. Instead, I fear something far more insidious.  I have watched with much distress as our popular culture has been overrun by a crippling and irrational fear for our children’s safety in every conceivable venue.  In step with the fear, comes a growing belief that our children are incapable of doing anything on their own. They are helpless and fearful, and they need to be coddled, guided, protected, prompted, assisted, and generally engulfed in an all-parents all-the-time existence, just to keep them safe from the big bad world.  The result has been a near-elimination of what humanity has, for thousands of years, considered a “normal” and healthy childhood – one that includes individual and independent exploration, unsupervised play, room for errors (some big ones!), decision-making with no parents in sight, and the freedom to test their competence in everything from handling sharp knives to deciding how to respond to a violent provocation from another kid.  These opportunities are disappearing from our culture and the predictable results are beginning to show.  Google “college students call 911 for mouse.”  Follow links from there.
What’s worse is this: parents who see this train-wreck coming, and who are actively defying the popular hysteria, are being ridiculed, shamed, and even arrested.  Among many other things, I have read the following:  a mom was arrested because her 8-year-old son decided to walk to school alone rather than wake up his exhausted/sleeping Mom; a mom was arrested for allowing her 8-year-old daughter to play in the park alone; a couple was charged, and then harassed endlessly by CPS, because they allowed their 10 and 6-year-old children to walk home from the park together. I am here, on this site, writing this blog, because my inner warrior has been awakened, and I am ready to get in the fight.  In that spirit, The Tom Sawyer Project was conceived with offense in mind, rather than defense.  I will question, challenge, pursue, and call-out those forces that would criminalize competent parents, and help inspire those parents to see beyond their culture-driven fears, and let their kids get out into the world. Grandiose goals, perhaps, but goals nonetheless.  As Twain himself once said: “The elastic heart of youth cannot be compressed into one constrained shape long at a time.” In addition to action-oriented items, I will be writing about parenting in general, and the political, cultural, and psychological forces that impact how we parents choose to go about the world’s most important profession. I encourage you to comment on what you see.  After all, this site was launched by a humble, and completely computer-illiterate, parent who can use all the feedback he can get. Healthy philosophical debate is welcome and encouraged.

There is more to come; hopefully much much more, and soon.  In the meantime, if you like what you have read here, I suggest you check-out FreeRangeKids.com.  The hostess is a woman named Lenore Skenazy.  She is a tough, unafraid defender of childhood who, like many of us, has simply had enough of this *&^%.  She is an inspiration for me, and for many others.  If there were ever a “shot heard ’round the world” in this particular fight, she fired it.
Thanks again for visiting.  Enjoy!

Brian W.