Friday, October 27, 2006

Overprotective Mom??

Now that Nicholas is in Kindergarten we're experiencing a host of new things. Lots of "firsts". Among them? New friends and first playdates with these new pals. Which I'm totally down for and am actively arranging. In fact, I've been the one to take the lead to make contact with the moms/parents of a couple of the kids that Nicholas seems to like from school.

One mom I've had a chance to talk with several times since we've both volunteered in the classroom at the same time. Like us, her oldest is a 5-yr old boy and she has a 3-yr old daughter. Her son also rides the bus home from school. I feel very comfortable with her and have been encouraging a playdate. We've emailed back and forth trying to come up with a date that will work out. She's invited us - all of us (minus the working dads...) over for lunch after school and then playtime for the kids. Totally appropriate and something I'm looking forward to. It gives us moms a chance to talk and get to know one another, but it also allows the opportunity for us to get comfortable with each others households and parenting styles so that we can move on to kid-only playdates with ease and familiarity.

But the other playdate I'm arranging? Different story. This kid rides Nicholas's bus home everyday, and everyday he asks if he can get off the bus with Nicholas. You can't just do that for obvious reasons. So I sent a note to the kids parents asking them to contact me so we could chat and figure out how we could get the boys together for a playdate or something. Weeks went by with no response from the parents. And yet everyday this kid is asking to come over. Finally I just jotted down his address off his backpack tag, knowing he MUST live close if he's on the same bus, and we walked over to his house. Turns out, he goes to an in-home daycare after school, not his own home. Ah-ha! NOW I know why it's been so difficult connecting with the parents: they both work. Gotcha. The bummer? The daycare lady essentially shut me down for letting the kids play, too.

Well, Nicholas was totally bummed out and kept asking to play with this kid. So we took another walk over to the daycare lady's house, just to see if maybe this kid could play. It was a lovely day...

Our timing couldn't have been better. It was 3:30pm and this kid's mother was just picking him up. She's off work at 3pm, apparently. So we were able to spend a few minutes chatting and making plans for this kid to come over to our house. (today, in fact. The kid and my two kids are in the backyard happily playing. I can see them from the computer, don't worry.) The mom was nice enough. She was fine with her son coming over to our house to play and just getting off the bus with Nicholas after school. He'll play here for a few hours and then we'll walk him back to his daycare provider's house so she can pick him and his older brother up after work.

But here's where it's a little bit strange for me. The mom had only just met me and didn't know anything about us, where we lived, our phone number - nothing - and she seemed perfectly at ease sending her son to my house.
She didn't ask any questions. She didn't want to make plans for this first playdate for after she gets off work or even a weekend, just to assure herself of her sons safety at our home. I mean, as far as she knows Mr. Chick owns 73 guns that aren't locked and watches porn openly in front of the kids (he doesn't, but she wouldn't know that).

So perhaps I should take it as a compliment that she felt so comfortable with me after just having met me. I volunteered some information to her, and asked stuff like whether her son had any allergies to food or whatever that I should be aware of (I would be feeding this child lunch, after all, and didn't want to error there). Nicholas mentioned watching a movie, which he sometimes gets to do in the afternoon (quiet time), but I double-checked with her about whether her kid is allowed to watch movies - kid movies - during the day or not. That sort of line of questioning. I want to be as respectful of her as possible and appreciate when it's reciprocated. She was just very casual and said that it's all good - whatever. Um, ok.

So am I strange in thinking that it's wise to know a little bit about the people with whom my child spends time? To not want to blindly send him somewhere with people I don't really know? Am I just being an overprotective mom of my firstborn? (maybe this inclination simmers down with siblings and you've been through it once? This kid does have a 5th grade brother....) Because we've never really faced this before. We've always been in playgroups during Nicholas's preschool days so I knew the other moms, and we weren't yet at a point where we just sent the kids over without a parent. We're at that point now, it seems, so this is new territory. I have sent Nicholas over to my neighbor friend without me, and she's done the same with her daughter, but we KNOW each other. We've become friends and feel comfortable with our kids being in each other's home.

Is it me? How do others approach this? I'd love to hear from you about your situations and how you handle such things. What do you do to feel ok about letting you kid go somewhere without you? Do you do any sort of checking beforehand? Do you simply trust the other mom? Input much appreciated!

I think you were right on for thinking it odd that she isn't more protective. PRobably because of the older child though. Either way, I'm like you...I wanna know. Actually, Walker is so wild at home, I'm afraid to allow him to go to someone's house besides my moms right and afterall, he is only 3 and we have a little time before he goes places alone. Either way, I like your tactics better than the easy-go-lucky ladies. I'm so terrified of something happening to my kids...terrified.
I am with you completely on this one. My oldest is the same age and I can not see letting her go to someone's house that I do not know well. I know moms of older pre-teen aged kids and they are still that way. I say follow your heart and that "little voice" that guides you on these parenting issues because it's probably always the right course of action!

I don't think you're being overprotective. I think it's weird that she didn't want your number and stuff written down for her, since she'd never even been to your house.

I'm with you. I like to have a bit more information about where and with whom my children are going to be spending time.
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