Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Social Etiquette of Parenting

I had a strange, fantastical idea early on that as I adjusted to parenting that it would become easier as time went on.
(I'll wait a moment whilst any other parents who might read this, pick themselves up from rolling around on the floor laughing).

I was, of course, wrong. It's not exactly that it gets harder and harder, it's more that everytime you find a solution to a difficulty, another one (or two, or ten) quandries appear to replace it!
We live on a relatively quiet cul-de-sac. There is a small group of approx 4 children who regularly play out on the street without visible parental supervision (although I am sure that they are being kept an eye on, but mum/dad isn't sat in the front garden). They are all at least 2 or 3 years older than Ellie, and live near each other at the other end of the street. It's a nice street - everyone says hi to each other, and smiles on passing, but you don't really have conversations with people other than your next door neighbour. (unless there is some big 'crisis' occuring). Ellie's friend Evie also lives on a cul-de-sac, but the grown ups there appear to be more sociable, and I get the impression that they chat together, or take turns to be 'supervising adult' whilst the children play.
I'd quite like Ellie to be able to play out on the street with the others, but a) I think she's a little young to be out on the road yet and b) we've not made friends with the other children yet. So, I put this problem to one side until she is older.
However, recently a 9 yr old, who I do not recognise from the street has been coming round to see our cat (ie we keep finding her sat/standing in our front garden stroking or holding our cat). This has developed quite rapidly into her coming into our back garden when we are there (I hope not, when we are not) and even into our house - chasing after our poor cat, encouraged by Ellie. I had hoped that she might play with Ellie, but if we point out that the cat is now hiding and looking very stressed and perhaps should be left alone, then she gets on her bike (literally) and heads off. Conscious that our back garden is very private, I make a point of asking if her parents know where she is when she comes into our garden. To which, she says 'yes' - although I doubt the accuracy of this.
Short of insisting that she takes me back to her house to meet her parents, I am unsure what do about her prescence in our garden, and what her parents might make of her being hidden out of sight in our back garden. And, I'm not even sure I want her round at all, if she is going to upset Ellie by dashing off as soon as the cat is unavailable without even saying goodbye, when Ellie was really enjoying spending time with the 'big girl'.



Maggie said...

I think it would be sociable and friendly to insist to meet her parents. It is quite possible that they do not know exactly where she is and if they should ever have trouble finding her they would then know to check at your place as well as any other places she frequents. My experience with the more independent kids in our neighbourhood is that the caregivers are happy to know who knows their children. I also found that when I made a connection to the parents it was easier to connect to the kids. In one case a girl would run around to the patio door and try to watch us eat dinner if we didn't answer the front door and in another case a little boy was refusing to move off the drive when cars were leaving or arriving. After I introduced myself to the parents I found that the kids didn't shrug me off when I needed, not just wanted, to talk to them.
I could go on and on...

Custancia said...

Maggie - thanks that's good advice. I'll let you know how I get on!

Jessica said...

I understand your quandary, to a certain extent. I know as my children get older, they're going to want to be more independent. As a parent, I would want to know where I could look for my children, should I be unable to find them.

I'm kind of playing it by ear, though. We lived way out in the country when I was a child, and so my brother was my only playmate. 3+ miles is a little far to meet someone for a game of street hockey. Still, mom worked nights, and slept during the day. Ostensibly, my dad would have at least a passing idea of where we were as he worked around the ranch during the day, but more often than not, we just roamed free over the hills until mealtimes rolled around.