"The house is big enough for the kids to have privacy, but we're close enough so we don't feel isolated from them," she says. "My concern, when they get older there's not going to be a lot of privacy for everyone. I tell my husband, they're not going to have any places to hide girlfriends when they're teenagers."
But even in Eichlers, kids can always hide in their rooms. "We can see them, that's for sure," Stacy Binns says of her two kids, who live in an Eichler in San Mateo's Nineteenth Avenue Park.
"Not in my room," her son Graham pipes up.
Another place for kids to escape parental purview is the neighborhood surrounding their home. Like many parents today, Melissa Beard doesn't let her kids run free, though she takes them and their friends to the pool in Evergreen Commons' gated community park, an amenity supplied by the Strengs.
"Parents today don't feel comfortable with their children wandering," she says. "That's why I like the park. They can run amok without me having to worry."
There are neighborhoods, however, where kids still take to the hills—or at least the valleys. Valerie Calegari's Davis neighborhood is one. The neighborhood is increasingly filled with kids, and they play outside on the street at will.
"You wanna play Two Square?" Rowan asks his sister. The two are soon tossing a ball at each other, hoping it bounces just right in the proper square. The neighborhood is safe for street play, Valerie says, because "we are a side street off a side street off a side street."
Davis is known for its network of bike trails and for safe streets, and Rowan takes advantage of it by biking all over town with his buddy. Both of Calegari's children bike to school.
In Rancho San Miguel, many kids bike to school. "The bike racks at school are filled most of the time," Ethan Schick says. Yes, growing up modern can be great—but it's not without its own peculiar dangers.
"The fact that the walls are made of glass makes it easy for things to go wrong," Isaac Schick observes, recalling the time a friend pushed on a panel, smashing it. "It just breaks and shatters, not like the glass in a car's windshield."
His dad has since gotten a rider for home insurance covering glass.
And Ethan has been known to grab a ball and shout, "Let's play some catch!"
"Not in the house. Can't do it!" his dad instructs.
And smooth floors may be fun but they can be a disaster waiting to happen. "My son spills water, it's like an ice rink," Melissa Beard says. "You will fall. He just yells, 'Mom!' And I come and wipe it up."
And how about those rocks next to the Beards' indoor tree? Or the tree itself? Or that attractive, original wooden screen that divides family room from living area?
"I just have a home where you tell the kids not to throw the rocks, or hang on the partition, or climb the tree," Melissa Beard says.
Then there are the dangers not to the children but to your valuables.
The San Filippos have temporarily replaced a collectable modern coffee table with one worth $10. The Hans Wegner sideboard remains, but if Dash touches it, "it's an instant time out," his mother Mona says. "If he touches it by accident, he screams and runs, 'Oh no! I don't want time out!'"
In the home Stacy Binns and husband George Bennett share with daughter Ivy and son Graham, with a Saarinen lounge chair, circular Eames coffee table, and Jean Prouvé dining table, "we learned at a very young age to respect the furniture," their daughter Ivy says.
But it doesn't pay to worry overmuch about your furnishings—not when you're raising a family, Scott San Filippo says. "Living with any kid," he says, "you've got to go with the flow."