As a child, Ashley Thomas loved to go, by herself, to a meadow about a 10-minute walk from her house in Ojai, California.

Playing on her own let her imagination soar.

“You can pretend you’re the Queen of Sheba,” she says.

Exploring made her feel independent and grown up.

Once, when she was in about the first grade, she even found a snake. “There’s no way I would have picked up a snake in front of my parents,” she says. “The reason I knew it was OK was I had also gone by myself to the library to take a snake safety class.” (Yes, a snake safety class.)

Ah, the old-time memories of the days when kids could play on their own without someone posting a video online to shame their parents, or calling the police to have mom arrested and the children seized by social services!

Thomas isn’t an aging baby-boomer telling tales to her grandkids.

She’s 30.

Only in the past decade or so has “no child left alone” become the social and legal norm in the U.S.