Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Free Range Kid 5

I mentioned earlier that Iris is attending Performing Arts Workshops Summer Camp for the third summer in a row. Previously, she had attended in our hometown of Redondo Beach. PAW is not sure why, but enrollment was way way down in RB. Too few kids signed up for the location to be economically viable. They called and asked if we preferred a refund or a transfer to another locale (with a discount for the hassle). We selected the camp at our daytime hometown of El Segundo, home of Standard Oil refinery #2.

Along with ~150,000 others, Bad Dad and I work in El Segundo. It is an odd town--all hustle and bustle and very tall buildings (not to mention LAX, one of the 10 busiest airports in the world) on the eastern side of town, and a sleepy movie set of a small surf town on the western side. The night-time population of El Segundo is ~16,000, a very lopsided day and night-time population ratio.

Summer camp is always a struggle for two-career couples. Camps don't run as late as daycare. Some camps offer after-hours care. Some don't. Fortunately, PAW does offer after-hours care until 5 PM.

However, when we consulted a map to figure out where to drop her off, we discovered that the school is across the street from the town library. It is a beautiful library. The children's section takes up the entire basement. When we went to check it out and sign her up for a library card, we learned about their unattended children policy.

Kids under 8 can not be left alone at any time. Teens can use the library without accompanying adults for as long as they like. The library will call the police if tweens are left without an adult for more than 3 hours. We thought those were pretty good guidelines. We told Iris that she can walk to the library instead of staying in after-hours care--as long as we agreed before hand when and where we would find her.

She is loving the freedom and responsibility.

Last Thursday, I met her at the library as pre-arranged. We ran into Pennamite and her kids (and one of Iris' classmates whose mom also works in El Segundo). Pennamite had flowers and produce from the farmers' market. We admired the artichoke flowers and ran upstairs to buy our own.

The farmers' market is a block from the library. Hmm, I wonder if I can send her each Thursday to buy produce for the family? She says that she will buy flowers, because she can tell what is pretty. But she is not sure how to pick good produce yet.

Yesterday, when I picked her up, we visited the Slipt Stitch yarn shop to see the new Fall yarns and Banner Stationers next door for envelopes. Then we dropped by the Blue Butterfly Coffee Co for muffins before heading over to get mommy and me allergy shots in Torrance.

This morning, she said that she wanted to be picked up at the Blue Butterfly. When Mark got there, she was nonchalantly munching on a muffin and reading The Hobbit. Actually, she is almost done with with the book.

Tomorrow, we are going to the farmers' market and then eating at Chef Hannes. I expect he will have freshly made peach cobbler this time of year. I have been thinking about that since I had some last summer. I went to the gym three times this week. I think I should order the cobbler a la mode.

I feel so lucky to have two great hometowns.

Main Street El Segundo outdoes Main Street Disneyland. In fact, El Segundo is such a popular place to film movies, TV and commercials, that the citizenry is in revolt over the disruptive effect of all that filming. Filming is limited to no more than 20 days per year at any one location. The high school was given 40 days. By April, the principal had exhausted those 40 days and was back at the city council, asking for more days. 40 days of filming by April! And that's not counting filming in other parts of town.

The menu changes daily based upon what was best at the market that day. So we had strawberry instead of peach cobbler tonight. We are not complaining. ;-) Yum!


  1. How nice that things have worked out so well with the camp, and that you can give Iris the leeway for a bit of independence.

    I dearly remember my summer afternoons walking to our local library (about a mile away). Beginning the summer I turned 9 I was allowed to walk to town and the library by myself. I walked to school anyway every day, and the school was halfway between downtown (and the library) and our house. I would spend hours at the library, go to the drugstore and get a coke or ice cream, and walk back home with my books. After a few months I was allowed to supervise my younger brothers, but it was more fun by myself.

    No summer day camps though in my small town.

  2. I clearly need to go explore El Segundo more, because I've only seen the tall buildings part!

    Maybe next time we are driving home from LAX....

  3. I used to spend hours at the library when I was a kid and thought it was an awesome treat and my kids did too. I'm so happy Iris has the opportunity to go and enjoy. Now my kids travel all over the world alone and people ask how I taught them how to do that. Now I know to say, "well, first you start by going to the library..."

  4. p.s. the kids are 24 and 18 now

  5. Anonymous09:44

    In my home town of Cambridge the public library had a tiny branch outpost about 1/2 mile from my house, and it had air conditioning, unlike our house. On early August days, I'd bike there on my trusty Rayleigh three-speed (I didn't own a ten-speed bike until grad school) and hide out for the three of four hottest hours of the day.
    38 years later, I still don't live in a house with AC.
    Yesterday, my free- (or freeish-) range eleven year old, who had been having a quiet afternoon at home, called me at work to ask if she could ride the bus to meet her friend at the pool. Remember your bus pass. Remember your pool pass. Leave a note for Mom. Sure, go ahead.
    I read a nonnegligible fraction of the books in the branch.


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