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.