Learning How to Parent

There are a few girls in S-Boogie's class that have started stopping by after school almost every day to ask if she can come play with them. Up until now I have always put them off with excuses (and we've been busy or sick a lot for the last few weeks). Today, however, we were outside playing in the driveway when they stopped by so she finally got to play with her friends. The ironic thing is, she hasn't been at school for the past two days because she has been running a fever. This afternoon her fever was mostly down and the weather was nice so I thought it would be fine for her and Little Dude to get outside for a while. I'm glad that it turned out that we could have her friends play too.

I don't know why I feel so socially awkward with a bunch of six-year-old girls. I'm not comfortable with S-Boogie running around and playing with them, but I'm not sure why. I think it's because I have some self-doubt; am I the only one who doesn't want her first-grader wandering the neighborhood? Some of the streets are kind of busy, and I don't know these girls parents at all (I think one is in our ward but I know the other two aren't). I am a lot more comfortable with play dates where I've arranged them with the parents and I know (more or less) what we're getting into. That being said, I'm also not sure if I should invite the kids into my house when the weather gets colder. I would if I had made prior arrangements with their parents and I have no idea if their parents are all right with them coming in my home. Of course, their parents are apparently OK with them wandering the neighborhood every afternoon so they probably don't mind.

As you can see, I'm not sure what to do about the situation. It brings up a lot of my social anxieties, both with kids and adults. It brings up the guilt I feel that I'm sheltering my child too much and that as a mom I'm going to ruin her social life. It brings up the uncomfortable fact that I am a bit of a snob and can be uncomfortable about people who come from different social classes than I do. And it brings up the fact that I don't like kids very much, and though I generally like my own I'm still not a big fan of other kids (which leaves me with the options of either letting my daughter go around unsupervised or supervising other kids I don't know very well). Sigh. I'm probably thinking about this too much. For some reason parenting keeps leaving me with the same old feeling that everybody else has 'the rules' figured out and I don't.


Excellent questions, all of them. I feel the same about a lot of it. I think it is because you aren't sure what to do with your oldest.

Our rules are not to go in another person's house unless I have agreed to it. If other kids want to come into our house, or even in the back yard, I make sure we tell a parent. I just assume that if I'd want to know something and am not entirely comfortable, then other parents must feel the same way. The first several times my kids play with a new child I try to keep fairly close so I can listen for things like language, tone, interactions, etc. It is a learning curve, for sure.

I also love this description: I picture a whole pack of evil Shirley-temple types roaming the neighborhood like Zombies. Sorry. Too much Halloween I guess.
AzĂșcar said…
I let my guy the same age roam. I let him walk to his friend's house, and play outside. He checks in, has to tell me if he switches houses, and so on.
Em said…
I have similar, serious issues! I remember when we first moved in here and this little girl from a neighbor family a few doors down would stand with her nose literally pressed against the screen of my living room window to hear the stories I was reading with Bee. We had to find things to do outside (sidewalk chalk, bubbles) to include her without bringing her in the house (because I didn't know what her parents would think).

I'm definitely protective, and I don't think that it's bad that you are too. I sure wouldn't want my little one hanging out in a house I knew nothing about. Even in happy valley Utah. :-)
Gina said…
Meet their parents and see if they're ok with the girls playing at your house, and then always invite them in to your house. In Ohio there was a roving band of neighborhood kids, and I made the situation easier for myself by always making our house available for them to play, so I didn't feel so anxious and knew where my kids were and what they were up to. It can be a pain, but for me it was worth it. Sometimes my kids played at their houses, and the quiet was nice, but I did worry at some houses how supervised they were, what they were watching on tv, etc.
Michelle said…
all very good questions.

I'd invite the girls into your house and get to know them. They'll stop wandering when the weather gets icky and your house can be a safe haven.

The social scene in Salt Lake is very strange-- kids are friendly only until 2nd or 3rd grade. If your daughter were a few years older the girls wouldn't have come back after the first rejection and you'd have an entirely different sort of problem!
Julie said…
I remember often get the distinct impression that while other people are real mothers, I'm just pretending.

I have found that when my kids are playing with other kids they actually don't really need much supervision, they just do their thing. At her age I think you can relax and just let her play.
Maraiya said…
Hilarious! I've had all the same anxieties and I found that I just felt my way through them all. Sometimes that involves me taking a leap of faith and letting my child go to another parent's house - honestly, do you ever really know them well enough if the parent is not already one of your closest friends? Sometimes we have the other kids over. Sometimes they can play but only in the yard. Every time seems to be different. And like you, the whole situation seemed to bring home to me how little I knew as a parent. It also taught me that my parents didn't know any better either and that so much of raising children is via on-the-job training.
Becca said…
I completely agree with what you're saying! I feel like a lot of parents have the 'rules' figured out and that everyone can see through me, and can tell that I don't. One rule we had growing up was that we couldn't play at anyone's house unless the mom was there. I didn't understand the rule growing up and it was kind of a pain, but now that I'm older I see a lot of reasons for the rule. Just one being that the moms tend to be more aware of what the kids are up to.
FoxyJ said…
Even though we are in "happy valley" we still have a lot of neighbors with big dogs, including pit bulls, and I know one of the girls has a father in law enforcement so I do worry about guns in her home (of course I assume that he's smart enough to secure them well). Anyways, I think for now I'll work on being the parent who is OK with inviting them over and also work on getting to know their parents better. We just barely moved to the neighborhood so I hardly know anyone, but we plan on living here for a while so hopefully that will change.

And this is why I love blogging, because I can always find friends to give me advice. I love my readers :)
Earth Sign Mama said…
Do you remember the summer that a seven-year old boy showed up at our door every morning at 7:30, with a lunch in his backpack? I found out after a few days that his mom would send him off everyday with instructions to not come back until 4:30. So, we just added another little brother to the mix that summer. I'd drive by her house and ask permission if we were going to the dentist or the movie or miniature golf. Don't be that mom.
AzĂșcar said…
Earth Sign, that is both sad and HILARIOUS.

For the record, he roams, but the roving band also roams over to our house. We've met the parents, we've seen the houses, we asked a few questions.

I realized a couple funny things:

1. If you have the windows open you can hear them playing outside, even several houses down.

2. At some point when the roaming band is at your house, you'll be feeding everyone lunch or snacks. Be prepared. I had a happy epiphany one day that all of us parents were taking turns feeding each others' children. Kind of sweet.

3. Never be too afraid to ask if they have guns and if they are properly locked up. Firearms are plentiful around here and a responsible gun owner will have no problem assuring you that their arms are under lock and key.
Earth Sign Mama said…
Hey, we had the trampoline and I gave everyone snacks who showed up. I preferred having them playing in my yard or my cul-de-sac because then I knew what was going on and I could be on top of it. The wandering boy was simply locked out of his house every day and he discovered the first week that our home was always open.

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