I was recently chatting with my mom about keeping my son safe from all the crazies out there wanting to do him harm, and what I was planning on doing about it.
Not that he goes anywhere or does anything without me at this point, he's not quite three, for goodness sake, and I'm not completely crazy. But I do let him play unteathered at the playground, and just keep an eye on him while I either chat with my mommy friends, or find a bench and stay out of the sun.
But when my mom was a kid, she and her sisters would leave the house after breakfast, then go off and find whatever to do till they got hungry. If they were hungry for lunch, they'd come home and eat lunch, otherwise they'd come home at dinnertime and nobody sent out the national guard for them, it was just what people did.
Even when I was a kid, I can remember going from my house to the houses across the street, then behind those houses, through the woods, across this stream, up the hill to the park and we'd play there till around dinnertime, or we'd go over to the rocks by my friend Bethany's* house, or we'd go over to my friend Lisa's house, several streets away, just whoever's house we felt like playing at that day.
Even when I was getting to be a teenager, after my younger sister had been with a couple of friends and had been flashed by some guy that the cops eventually caught. My mom still let me go by myself after dark up the street to my friend Misty's house to spend the night. Those were the days when it seemed like every time you passed one particular street lamp it went out and freaked you out so much that you ran the rest of the way to your destination. When in reality it was either coincidence or a different one each time and you didn't notice because it added to the drama of the story. I can still remember my mom saying how she was glad it was my younger sister who had seen the flasher guy, because she remember lots of details about the car he was driving, what he looked like, the coat he was wearing, etc. She thought if it had been me and my friends we'd not have gotten such good intel since we'd just have been looking at his penis. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom! We were 12, not sex fiends.
But we walked all over that neighborhood as well, to the different playgrounds they had, the convenience store, the elementary school my sister went to, my friends' houses. And we never called home to let Mom know we'd gotten there either. It was just assumed that we did, and that we'd be home later.
There was even a guy who was a former cop who said he ran a youth group for teenagers who was taking them to the local amusement park and would I like to go and take a friend. My mom let me go with them without doing any sort of check into whether he was even who he said he was. A bus full of kids showed up, my friend Denise and I got on the bus and off we went.
Today Big M and I have double and triple checked the daycare that we will be trusting to look after Little M, and have not even let anyone but family or other Mommies that we know personally watch him for any length of time. He's barely been out of sight of one of us his entire life so far, and when the time comes for him to be able to do some unsupervised play in the backyard, I expect to have the gate locked at that time. Right now we have a 5-foot-tall privacy fence back there. So someone would have to work hard to get in or to even see in and know what's going on back there.
But if Mattie will be playing at other kids houses, I play to know the parents personally, and I plan to know if there is alcohol in the home, and whether it is locked up, same with firearms. And if there are firearms, I will suggest that the playdate take place in our home.
It's just not the same world that my mom and her sisters pranced around the front yard in their "Liger's Club" dance. And my baby is too precious to risk. I know it won't make me very popular with him, this overprotective mama-bear stance I've chosen, but I'd rather him be angry at me, than me be explaining to the police that "he does this all the time and nothing's ever happened before..."
*All names have been changed to protect the young and possibly stupid.