Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Sometimes it's Best To Ask

Nothing to do with Sisterlocks or haircare today. This is one of those 'Off My Chest' things that i normally keep on my other blog, but I'm experimenting with merging them all so this'll be a test run.

The other day, my eleven year old daughter was invited to the cinema by the parents of one of her eleven year old friends. Nothing amiss here you might say. Of course not, we thought. And so permission was granted and off she went, with a hop and a skip when the said parents arrived in their car to pick her up.

Several hours later she returned - still happy- and we thought nothing of it; waving goodbye to the other parents from our driveway.

A day or two later, during a hitherto normal conversation - I asked my daughter - 'So what did Mr & Mrs X think of the movie?' - to which she responded:
"Oh they didn't watch it. They just dropped us off and came back for us later."

My heart stopped.

This is London not some idyllic suburbia or even some Caribbean community where you have a bit of confidence that someone somewhere knows you or your child and will therefore keep an eye out if they see her 'on the street'. This is London. Kidnapping, mugging, stabbing old London - and my child is just eleven.

Yes, she is pretty street savvy and mature enough for her age, but that doesn't mean I take unnecessary risks with her, especially now that she has 'things' sprouting from her chest. Mi no want nuh eedyat mistake mi baby fuh sambady older! NOT A HAPPY BUNNY!

Furthermore, the cinema they were dropped off at is within a huge complex. The cinema itself has 12 screens, and then there are umpteen shops, restaurants, bars surrounding it. Neither child had a mobile phone on them - suppose they had gone wandering or been lured outside? Suppose they'd had a fire in the cinema and had to evacuate - how long would have they been waiting around to be collected?It's just mind boggling.

Paranoid you may think I am, and maybe you're right but this is just not the sort of game I want to play with my child's life. If it were a case of neither parent being interested in the movie, surely I had a right to know? That way I could have decided whether to tag along or to prevent my child from going in the first place. I HATE making decisions based on incomplete information. It's unfair.

I've taken my girl and her mates to see a film I had no interest in before. I bought their tickets and popcorn, let them choose their seats and then discreetly faded away into the background (a couple rows back) with my DS. So, while they had the illusion of being on their own, they knew I wasn't that far away if they needed me. On another occasion I waited in an armchair in the lobby outside their screen. In case of emergency I was never more than a few minutes away. This, I find, is very different to actually leaving the complex, knowing that IF something DID happen - it'd take you at least 30 mins (more in traffic) to get back.

I think the thing that annoys me the most is not being told. If I hadn't asked my child, I would never have known that there were no adults there. So my point is, if you invite someone's child out and you plan to 'leave them' to their own devices, it really is best to ask first, because you never know what rules and guidelines they have in place for the safety and well being of their child and you don't want to go mess things up.

I was so furious I haven't been able to speak to the said parents, I probably should let them know how I feel but I don't really think they'd care much i.e. I think they'd think I was just overreacting. They don't really seem to respect us or our time for e.g. one time they asked if we could watch their child and we said we could but we needed to be somewhere for 7 pm. Needless to say they didn't return until 830 pm - and when my husband called to check where they were (around 745) - he was told "Don't be in a hurry. We're coming" (What????????????)

Anyway, rant over. Parents, Aunts, Uncles etc - just ASK FIRST. No harm in checking if something is OK BEFORE you do it.


Char said...

You know what? I am going to take the hardline here, AND i do NOT have a child, so i cannot even try to imagine, but this is what i am sure my own mother would say to me: "don't assume that other parents parent the way you do."
Odds are, they don't. End of. If you feel funny about it, don't let your child go with them.

Because, God suffer it not, if something had happened, the fingers would be pointing everywhere.

Just tek care o yu chile yu hear! Don't think about 'oh she needs time with her friends, let me let her go'. What she really needs is the good mum that you are, so trust your instincts, they have been good so far xxx

Gigglz said...

The parents definitely sound like a trip!!! As you said they probably wouldn't even care that you have a problem with it, so why even bother with the conversation. Unfortunately, though now you have to be extremely cautious with your daughter hanging out with her friend unless they are with you.

My daughter is 5, so I haven't encountered these type of situations yet but I'm glad you posted this so that I know that I need to speak with the parents first and ask specific questions. No one can take care of your child like you can or make the same decisions regarding her safety.

Case in point, again my daughter is 5 and she was with her stepmother and they went into the bathroom. Her stepmother asked my daughter if she wanted to go first, my daughter said no you go first. Her stepmother went into the bathroom closed the door and told my daughter to stand right in front of the door so she could see her feet. Mind you there really wasn't no harm her stepmother did what she though was best, however I take my daughter in the bathroom stall with me becuase you NEVER KNOW when/if something can happen. As easily as she told her to stand there someone with ill intentions could have covered her mouth, snatched her up, and ran out the bathroom. What would have stepmother done if she was in the stall???? I definitely had words with her father about the whole situation, because you never want to put your child in harms way even for a second!!!

Naturally Sophia said...

My heart goes out to you. I have a friend who is a missing person. She was an adult when she went missing. It's definitely not ok!

Leaving 2 kids at a movie theater anywhere at anytime for any reason is unacceptable. When I was a teenager, I went through a "fast" stage. I told my parents I was going out with my friends parents to a theater. My friends parents dropped us and left. We, needless to say, used that 2 hours not to see the movie but boys in the mall.
Now, this was me. I am not saying anyone else's child is fast like I was. But what's wrong with exercising caution?

Better be safe than sorry! How ever you address it is appropriate, as you already know.

Bajan Lily said...

Thanks Sophia - I know what you mean!! Sorry to hear about your friend, I really do hope she is found.

Gigglz - I'm with you, I can understand her saying stand outside the door but my little girl had to come inside the stall with me until she was 8 or 9 (depending on how public the location was). Yes, I am paranoid!

Vickie said...

first, thank God your baby is ok and nothing happened, second i think u need to teach ur husband a few choice bajan words to tell these people.......and yes i would get if off my chest no need to have it burning me unnecessarily......OMG i can just see my mother going balistic

anthia-ofo said...

You need to have words with them/ or just don't let you child go with them any longer. Her friend can come to you if they want to see each other- under your watchful eye. You just can't be too careful these days. Unfortunately, lots of parents can't be bothered. I have to know where my children are and how they can be reached, even the 22, 18,16 ,15 year olds at all times. My teenage boys are not permitted to roam around. They're either going to or returning from some organised activity or friends' homes, usually ferried by me or another parent. (yeah taxi service) The 11 yr old has to have adult supervision if out somewhere.
No jokes, you're right to be angry. Thank God the girls were OK, at least now you know what sort of parents they are.


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