Thursday, June 09, 2011

Am I being unreasonable?

I have a dilemma this morning. What do you do when the parents of your children's friends are more permissive than you? Lucas went to a friend's house last night for a sleepover. I expect at a sleepover, kids will do things they normally would not do at home. I expect kids will pig out on junk food all night. I expect they will stay up way too late. I expect they will get rowdy and loud. I expect they will play video games in excess of the hour a day we allow Lucas. I expect they might watch a scary movie. I expect all of these things and have no problem with any of them. Slumber parties are about having fun and acting silly and getting a little crazy. What I didn't expect, however, was for my son to be wandering around a strange neighborhood all alone.

As expected, Lucas did not make it overnight. He was nervous to begin with. Since he is seeing a therapist right now for his extreme anxiety that is currently focused on bedtime, it was a monumental feat for him to even attempt a sleepover. But Lucas is an amazing child who is willing to try anything. So he packed up his sleeping bag, his pillow, and his beloved doggie and silky (the two things that he has slept with since birth) and we headed off to his friend's house at 5:30 last night. At nine o'clock, Ruanita received a call on her cell phone saying that Lucas wanted to wish her a good night. He told her he was nervous, but that he wanted to try to stay. He tried, but ultimately, at eleven o'clock, we received the call to come pick him up. Since I was already in bed and Ruanita had just walked in the door from work, she went and picked him up. On the way home, they had the following conversation.

Ruanita: Did you have a good time?
Lucas: Yea I had fun...except for getting lost.
Ruanita: You got lost?
Lucas: Yea, we were playing hide-and-seek and I got lost.
Ruanita: You got lost in Ryan's house?
Lucas: No. Outside.
Ruanita: You got lost in Ryan's yard?
Lucas: No. In the neighborhood.
Ruanita: In the neighborhood? What do you mean?
Lucas: We were playing hide-and-seek in the whole neighborhood. I got lost and couldn't find my way back to Ryan's house.
Ruanita: Really? Were you scared?
Lucas: Yea. I got really scared. But then one of the boys from Ryan's house came and found me and took me home.

Okay...I know that I am an overly protective mom. I readily admit that. However, I don't think I am being extreme by being upset about this scenario. Lucas is eight years old. He knows how to cross a street. He knows about stranger danger. But he is also gullible and naive and friendly to a fault. He is a child, after all. I would never EVER let him wander the streets alone. He was in a strange neighborhood. In a big city. This is Minneapolis, for goodness sake. His friend lives in a relatively nice neighborhood, but weirdos abound in Minneapolis. Lucas had never been to this friend's house before and probably couldn't even remember what the house looked like. His friend's older brother, who is ten, had friends over, as well. So I am sure the three eight-year-old boys were simply tagging along with the older boys. But even two years from now, I would not want Lucas wandering the streets of Minneapolis alone. I played tag in my neighborhood as a child, but times are different. It is no longer 1980 when tampered Halloween candy was the only thing a kid had to worry about. I am feeling rather pissed about the whole thing this morning.

Am I being unreasonable?


Madgew said...

That is scary. Clearly, he was not too far away thank goodness but I would have wanted the parents to be involved in this game. I would ask them if they were and say it worried you. Maybe find out more of the story. He could have literally been next door. It is a weird story for sure and it bothers me. I remember what my younger son was like because he had a brother two years older. He did what his brother did which meant he learned things a lot earlier. Probably Lucas' friend had already played this game and the mom figured the younger kids would be okay. More information needed.

Barb said...

I agree. More information needed. Talk to the parent about it. You are hearing the story from your son's POV and perhaps it was scary and he was "lost" but perhaps the parent knew where he was and they were keeping an eye on him. When in doubt, talk to the other parent. There are ways to have the discsussion without sounding melodramatic and overprotective. And even if you do come off as melodramatic and overprotective, who cares? It's your kid and you are ultimately responsible for your child and you are allowed to be protective and cautious and concerned and to set boundaries. If it was a neighborhood and a house you and Lucas were both familiar with, it might be different. But it sounds like, for now, it's new and scary for both of you. And you have every right to be cautious until you feel comfortable. Talk to the other parent and tell them your concerns. Being a good mom isn't always comfortable. :)

Alie said...

Hello.. I like your blog... I totally agree with you and would have been very upset that he was allowed to wander the neighborhood alone at age 8! My son is 7 and a half and I send him to the neighbor's to borrow sugar but if he's out in our neighborhood running around or riding his bike, I am OUT there with him! I would just tell them, in a non-judgemental way, for future reference, Lucas isn't really good at travelling on his own around the neighborhood...and he needs some supervision!

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