Strapping on his bike helmet my six-year-old son Hendry tells me he is “going to the beach,” and while my tummy does a little flip with anxiety, I just smile and wave him off.
The beach he is talking about is a few streets away. He will have to cross a couple of roads to get there and one of them is fairly busy.
He will ride past around 100 houses and I have no idea who lives in most them. The beach itself brings another concern because while we live in a small town it’s teaming with tourists most weekends, so it’s anyone’s guess who’s there.
He can at least swim, but only as well as most kids his age, he wouldn’t be too good out of his depth.
But still I let him go and I will probably let him go even further next week, he may even catch the bus to a friend's if he wants to.
I have been a free-range parent for 15 years now and allow my four children to do dangerous things carefully, most days.
For example, my daughter Caja flew as an unaccompanied minor from Sydney to Perth age six and then to Thailand when she was seven. She caught public transport regularly to see her grandparents a two-hour train ride with a change at Central, Australia’s busiest train station not long after.
All my kids use public bathrooms alone and do small grocery runs at the local shop and often pick up our takeaway on a Friday evening.