Monday, October 24, 2011

Cutting The Apron Strings

The other week, I received an email inviting Little Miss to a birthday party. It was for one of her favorite friends in school, and we've had a couple playdates back and forth, so I know Charlie's mom (not his real name), too. Little Miss loves birthday parties, and she's to the point now where she gets dropped off instead of parents staying for the fun and games.

Then there was this invitation. Little Miss was invited to go downtown (Chicago) on the train to the National Museum of Mexican Art for a craft before having lunch and returning home.

Wait, what?

Little Miss is six!

I almost dismissed it out of hand at that point. I could see so many ways for a group of children to go bad on the train or downtown. For some reason, I kept reading. The party was going to be only Little Miss, Charlie, and one other friend with both parents in tow.

I thought about it. And then I found out that the other child couldn't go so that it would be just Little Miss and her well-behaved friend. And the responsible parents. I didn't want to be the one to tell the boy he didn't get to have a birthday party because there would be no guests. And the ratio was pretty good. She'd been downtown before. And given that she's already broken her arm at her own birthday party, aren't we due for some good karma?

I finally decided to let her go, knowing the parents and itinerary of the outing.

Even after I made the decision, I still wrestled with it. She's six. While she stays with adults and follows directions, if anything going wrong, I'm a long way from her to help. While the likelihood is that everything would be fine, what if it isn't?

You can imagine my relief when I found out that the party would instead be here in town with the kids going out to lunch and then a movie. Great, now she's having her first date instead.

So what would you have done? Would you have let your child go downtown in this situation?

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Christina October 24, 2011 at 3:58 PM  

If it were parents I knew well and trusted, and who knew my child well, I'd be OK with it.

But a larger group or parents that didn't know my kid well enough, and I probably would have said no, or at least offered to come along.

Of course, my 7 year old is a special case - with her autism she's very likely to wander off, so I'd have to really trust the parents.

Kori October 24, 2011 at 5:09 PM  

I honestly don't know; I think I would have to be something like blood sisters with at least one of the parents first, but...I just don't know.

Tara R. October 25, 2011 at 2:02 PM  

That would have been hard. She is six, and the other parent sounds more like an acquaintance than a close friend. I think it would have been very hard to let her go without being there too. Glad it worked out that her friend could have his birthday closer to home.

Unknown October 25, 2011 at 3:01 PM  

Only if the parents had a better sense of direction than I do downtown.

Anonymous October 25, 2011 at 10:22 PM  

I just had my six year old do her first sleepover. It was such a strange transition from "who do I trust with my kid?" to "who do I trust with my kid and can I trust my kid to be trustworthy with who I trust?" It was tense but I am so glad I did it and my daughter has just glowed with pride at pulling it off!

Pat October 29, 2011 at 7:39 AM  

That is a hard decision to make, but I'd have said no to the downtown trip and OK to the in-town lunch and movie if I knew the parents were very responsible.

Carol Ann from Mom It Forward October 29, 2011 at 5:37 PM  

I appreciated your thoughtful concern. Since you're asking, I don't think I would have let a six-year child go into Chicago on a train with another family unless I was also present. We can't be too careful in today's world. It only would take one careless act and then a lifetime of regrets.

Michelle November 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM  

Christina - I'm with you on that special case. There is NO way I would have let Mister Man go. But Little Miss is different in her level of maturity... and it was 1:1 with someone I know with a very distinct agenda.

Megryansmom - Well yeah, there is that, isn't there ;) Did you get home safely?

Sheila - Sleepovers are interesting, too. We aren't quite there yet, but I know they're coming - yay for being friends with mostly boys instead of girls! So glad your daughter had a great time.

Pat - It's interesting the different reactions. Having lived in the city and being around the city, it's not such a big deal. But were I new to the area or not familiar with it, it would be much harder!

Carol Ann - I agree with the not being too careful, but then there's driving home from playdates or Daisy meetings. And the dropoff birthday parties in public places. There's always something - and it's figuring out where the line needs to be drawn. The train is safe - and we've ridden it plenty - and a direct trip to and from the museum... is it so different from the field trips they take there a few times a year? The parent:child ratio is certainly better at the party! You're absolutely right on the one careless act part, but ... so many places they can happen. Too many.

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