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August 03, 2008

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I've been thinking about this too...part of me is amazed at your restraint (if she really did keep Joe from walking home, should the police not have had a few words with her??) while the completely non-confrontational part of me would have let that one go. ;)

I read about a study last year that said more kids were getting injured crossing the street, because their parents were too protective and never allowed them to learn how to cross by themselves. That really struck a chord with me (I tend to be on the protective side...) and I immediately had a talk with my eldest about crossing safety, and every time we walk anywhere she knows that she's allowed to run ahead and cross on her own. It seems like such a dumb little think, but I think she really appreciates that freedom.

I totally agree with your points and fully support your choice to provide a consequence to Joe that was both effective and appropriate. And I agree with the previous commenter that the other woman's behavior concerns me greatly.

Last spring my 8 yr old and her friend took their scooters down the road with my approval. It's 150 yds from our house to the stop sign. I expressly told them not to go beyond the stop sign. I did not stand outside and watch, but periodically I would peak through my blinds and check their position. At one point I saw them lingering by a home at that end of the street, and then I saw them go down that driveway. And then I did not see them.

I know the woman who lives in that home. I've spoken to her many, many times. She has brought gifts to my daughters from far away places. But what I thought at that moment was GIFTS! She brings them gifts! I don't know her at all....what if she's really after my girls? I freaked out and called her house and left her a message that I wondered where the girls were, having seen them go down her drive. Moments later they reappeared on the street carrying lemons from her garden that she'd given them to bring to me. She called me just after that to say they'd stopped by and were fine. Ugh.

How sad that we live in a world where adults are so suspicious of each other. But I do not like the way that other woman treated your son, and I guess my caution would be not about the stranger cruising the street, but the oddball neighbors that you don't really know.

It seems to me that you chose an appropriate, thoughtful consequence for your son and took a lot of variables into consideration. That woman was casting her judgment based on outside appearances without knowing any of the facts, apart from your son's age. It's amazing how the criticism of strangers can be such a hurtful thing.

If I've learned anything from reading your blog over the last four years, it is that you are nothing if not a thoughtful, well regulated parent. The woman was obviously hysterical and in need of a stiff drink. Some people's problems can't be solved with rational discussion, not that is was any of her business in the first place.

Please excuse my misspellings. It's hard to type while lying down!

I am a nervous parent, but I try to keep some perspective. Some days it's easier than others, naturally, but for me it is imperative that my daughter (4) wear a helmet when she's on her bike because of the likelihood of head injury in the event of a fall. I am hawkish when she's in or near water because of the high number of kids who drown every year. When she starts kindergarten in a year, I'll walk her to the stop because it's a fair distance, she'll have to cross two intersections, and we have no sidewalks in my neighborhood.

Still, I fear stranger abduction and I get creeped out by the number of people I don't know who insist on talking to her. I think the irrational part of the fear comes, in part, from the fact that the adults who raised me never demonstrated that they were worried about me or other kids - though I now know they were. So, I (and my husband and my peers) didn't have anyone model risk-assessment or dealing with letting a child go out into the world. It's compounded in our culture by the increased demands on parents to be perfect when it comes to keeping a kid safe/happy/etc.

Julie, it wasn't restraint; it was ignorance. It wasn't until after the dentist appointments were over that I had a few minutes to say to Joe, "How are you feeling about that whole thing?" He said, "I'm angry at that lady," and told me why.

I'm thinking about calling the police station tomorrow to see if I can speak with the responding officer. I'd like to have a description of her inappropriate interaction with Joe appended to the report.

Sarah, I am delighted to hear from you no matter how your spelling happens to be. I was just thinking about you as I was knitting a sleeve, hoping that no news was good news.

Amy and Karen, hear you loud and clear on the difficulties of hammering out the details -- what's too cautious? what's too risky? It's tough. Amy, I am also a helmet fanatic. When your mother is a speech pathologist who has logged a lot of hours working with brain-injured people, you're going to be wearing your helmet, end of story. If the boys forget I will remind them: "In this life you only get...." They finish the sentence for me, usually with a heavy sigh as they go to the garage for the forgotten helmet: "...one head."

I read the last post as well and I have to say that you are totally right on. Your children are so lucky that you aren't overprotective. While in some ways I can see where the other woman was coming from (I might ask a kid walking alone if he was ok and offer help) I think she crossed a line. Having him walk home was totally reasonable. 6 year olds can be quite capable if we give them opportunities and you clearly know what your son can handle.

Thanks for looking up the stats for the other causes of death -- my husband would love this post (which reminds me of the book Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences , one of his favorites) because of that. Oh, and thanks for giving me a nice one-liner to say to the boys when they don't want to wear helmets (in the comment above).

Anyway, I already told you in a previous comment that I think what you did is perfectly fine.

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