Our society has protocol for how to raise children — obedient, rule-abiding, polite, ambitious little kids. Then there are parents who raise their kids to be free spirits, effectively saying, "Screw your protocol," and doing things their own way. I think I fell somewhere in between these two methods of parenting. While my mom always encouraged me to get good grades and eat my veggies, there was still a sense of creativity and flexibility growing up in our household. When I realized I wanted to be a writer and started my own newspaper — covering, at the time, Monica Lewinsky — she was my most loyal reader. (Side note: I was about 10 years old.) She was also 100 percent in when I told her I simultaneously wanted to be an astronaut about five years later. (Thanks, Mom.)
1. They Let You Dress Yourself
Did your mom let you run errands with her dressed in a cape, tutu, and ruby slippers inspired by The Wizard of Oz? You lucky duck.
2. Haircuts Weren't A Requirement
Little boys are allowed to have long hair. Little girls can have short hair. Technically, all the hair hanging on your head is dead anyway. So... who cares?
3. They Encouraged You To Explore The Arts
If your parents fully supported your loves of painting and playing the clarinet as much as they did math and science, you were definitely raised to be a free spirit.
4. Make Believe Was Absolutely Crucial
My mom would read me stories all the time and she would even do the voices and we'd have tea parties with all my dolls. I call that a win.
5. You Were Allowed To Go By A Different Name
If your parents named you Stephanie but you woke up one morning deciding you would only answer to Ralph, and your parents we OK with it, yes, free spirit.
6. Playtime Outdoors Was A Must
Movies and video games were all well and good, but your parents also encouraged you to unplug and go play outside until the streetlights came on. You'd walk inside dirty and exhausted, and life was good.
7. "Rules" Were Fuzzy — They Were More Like Guidelines
Your parents wanted to give you the freedom to express yourself; so even if they told you no, it was usually negotiable.
8. You Were Never Sent To Your Room, Grounded, Or Spanked
It's not like they were thrilled when you drew on the white walls with black permanent marker, but they also didn't want to cramp your style. So they gave you a stern talking to and asked you to help them paint over it.
9. "Bad" Grades Weren't The End Of The World
Your parents were never upset that you always got a C+ in math, because they were too busy admiring the scaled-down replica of the Eiffel Tower that you made using nothing but popsicle sticks.