Q. At what age can I let my 7-year-old son ride his bike to his best friends’ house (two blocks away) on his own? The other family is fine with it. I’m not afraid of traffic or crime (quiet, safe area), but of being reported. I’ve heard about parents being arrested for allowing unsupervised play. Is there a law or a rule-of-thumb regarding when it is safe to let kids be on their own?
A. Yes, there are stories about adults reporting parents for letting their children play unsupervised in public.
I think 7 is a little young to responsibly ride a bike solo across intersections, but then again, I was riding pretty far and wide at that age (and other farm kids I knew were basically operating heavy equipment at that age).
But I’m not your son’s parent — you are. You should have the right to make choices regarding your own comfort — and to gauge your son’s competency — out in the world.
You might not be able to prevent concerned (or nosy) neighbors from calling CPS or law enforcement over seeing a young child riding solo, so you should check your local and state laws to see if you are violating any statutes.
Free Range Kids supports parents and children who want to exercise their rights to roam and play, free of interference. Their website offers a list of state laws affecting these rights. Check Freerangekids.com/laws to see what the laws are where you live.
Q. I recently became a widower after 45 years of courtship/marriage. As my wife was 18-plus years my senior, it is not a total surprise that she preceded me in death.
Although I came out to her 23 years ago, we managed to stay together because our bond of friendship trumped all else.
My one wholesome exploration of my true orientation was to sing with the local, municipal (implicitly gay) men’s chorus for about a decade.
Once my caregiver obligations became all-consuming about six years ago, I gave up on the chorus.
My wife was the gregarious one, and I have now come to realize that I have no other BFF relationships in my life.
Is it too soon for me to worry about doing something about the extreme loneliness that I’m experiencing?
A. It is never too soon to take steps to try to heal your loneliness. First step: Rejoin the men’s chorus.
Live music — listening to and performing — is an extremely powerful healing force. Music rearranges your feelings, stretches your abilities, and is good for your body and brain. And there is nothing quite like the feeling of hitting that high note or nailing the harmony perfectly. The “high” you experience after a tough and challenging rehearsal extends out into the parking lot, and for several hours afterward. And singing with others creates a wonderful kinship.
Your local hospital should have contacts for bereavement groups. Sitting with, listening to, and sharing your story with other surviving partners may help you to start building your own path forward.
Forty-five years is a lifetime to be in an intimate partnership. Building other friendships takes time and attention. Without your gregarious wife by your side to forge new connections, you may have to pick up some new skills. But extending your hand and saying, “Hi, my name is. . .” is the way to start.
I highly recommend you watch the wonderful movie “Beginners.” Christopher Plummer plays an older man who exits the closet after the death of his wife; his joy in reveling in his out and authentic self is a thing to behold. I would wish the same for you.
Q. A woman who was sick of school fund-raising informed the school that “my daughter would not be pestering neighbors, friends, or families with any fund-raisers.”
She obviously does not volunteer to help in any of the aforementioned activities.
Money has to come from somewhere.
If these groups didn’t raise funds, the only option would be to raise membership fees — often a whole lot.
I hope in addition to writing something about not pestering people, she also included a very helpful check to cover her daughter’s expected (and needed) contribution.
A. I read about a school that started the school year by offering parents an option: to contribute a flat fee to be put into an activity fund, and be put on a “do not pester” list for fund-raisers. This idea was quite popular.Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.