A mom’s “soapbox moment” Facebook post is going viral as many parents are jumping on board to agree with her that “for the love of Pete, kids should be able to climb trees.” Julie Holcombe, mom to twin 6th-grade boys Ryan and Patrick, felt compelled to get on that soapbox after an odd after-school incident the boys had last week. She told TODAY.com that her sons and a few of their friends walk home from school together every day, often stopping in a field within eyeshot of the school to burn off some energy by climbing trees. However, one day after school last week as they were doing their thing, a stranger approached them. Ryan Holcombe says,
“The man asked us to get out of the tree, and he said, ‘I’ve been watching you climb this tree after school for a while, and even sent a security guard over to talk to you, but you were being evasive of the officer. He told us, ‘I don’t want you kids climbing, because if you fall and get hurt, the school would be responsible and could get sued. ‘You aren’t in trouble, but if you do it again, I’m going to contact your principal.'”
According to Ryan, the man never did identify himself. When the boys reported the incident to their mom, she had a mouthful for anyone who would want to stop a couple of 12-year-olds from climbing trees—so she started typing. Her idea? A formal “permission slip” to give her kids permission to climb trees—and be KIDS!
She sent a copy of the permission slip with her boys to school and said they could show it to anyone who tried to stop them from playing in the field after school. It reads in part:
“My children have permission to climb any tree they so desire. I encourage it, whenever they can, for as long as they both shall live. So, from this point forward, I respectfully ask that you let my kids be kids.”
My FAVORITE line from her magnum opus, and one I think ALL parents can agree with, is:
“I can think of few things better than knowing they are spending their time playing outside in the fresh air, taking advantage of the beautiful playground nature can provide, getting exercise, using their imagination, chatting with their squad of friends, all while climbing a tree.”
Holcome addressed the permission slip to “Dear teacher or guard who didn’t identify himself to my children,” which I also thought was great, because REALLY? Not telling the kids who you are is kind of creepy at words and negligent at best. Don’t expect them to trust you and take you at your word if you’re not going to tell them who you ARE.
I am not normally one to buck authority, but I am with Holcombe on this one. Kids have been climbing trees since the beginning of time, AS THEY SHOULD! Let’s encourage our kids to enjoy nature instead of running home to stare at a screen, shall we?
What do you think of Holcombe’s response? Totally justified or major overreaction?