Key to Independence

Wendy Lin

Free-range children benefits:

Viscid lollipops, late bedtime, unlimited screen time.


Cavities, sleep deprivation, bad eyesight.


Elementary school, I was on my own.

Wake up, quietly get dressed, comb hair, and

gently lay the wooden comb.

Microwave, stop its alarming beep.

Tiptoe to kiss. Exit.


After school, the eerie vacancy

forces me into retreat.

Uninvited echoes trailed

even the slightest sounds.


Free time!

I crafted. I hung

color paper chains on every arch.

I fell asleep.


I grew older to further

embrace free-range parenting.

Between California and Georgia,

I chose the latter.


Living apart from both parents,

my culinary skills quickly advanced.

From revering measuring spoons,

I have diverted.


Weekly trips to the grocery store

have become a staple in my routine;

I am shopping, meal-planning, budget-

keeping through practice.


Grocery trips to independence.

Prepared to venture into the

unknown future, I am no longer

afraid to live alone.