When we moved to this neighborhood last summer, we were impressed by how safe it was; so safe, in fact, that children ages 5 and up were out playing together without adults around. They’d go back and forth to each other’s houses, ride their bikes and so forth. In fact, when they’re on their bikes and a car‘s coming, someone shouts, “Car!” which lets everyone know they need to pull to the side of the road.
My older daughter quickly became one of them. It is, after all, a safe neighborhood. This evening, she lost that. No, nothing bad happened to her; she’s fine. She was playing outside on the front porch by herself when a neighbor came over, beer fumes preceding her by four feet, accusing us of being bad parents because (get this) we allow our daughter to play outside unsupervised and we permit her to ride her bike through the neighborhood by herself. (She often likes to bike to her friends’ houses, even the ones who live right behind us.) This woman in her drunken stupidity has threatened to call DSS on us. Am I worried? Not particularly, especially considering one of the houses our daughter drives past belongs to a sheriff’s deputy.
This woman claims she’s a near-perfect parent, watching her children every moment they’re outside. She has watched her three- and five-year-old daughters ride their bikes in the middle of the street. She has watched, cigarette in one hand and beer in the other, as her three-year-old has ridden her bike straight into the path of an oncoming car.
Something that was so innocent – a child playing outside in the yard – has been taken from us. Ironically, not an hour later, I watched this same three-year-old bike down the road, her parents’ views partially blocked by a truck and a minivan and their backs to her part of the time. A few minutes later, I watched as the little girl walked into the back yard of another neighbor and climbed onto their trampoline while there was no one else in the vicinity watching her. Her parents only discovered where she was when she started crying because she didn’t know how to get down. I did take pictures of that.
If she does call DSS, which I invited her to go ahead and do, I’m really not worried. I’m less worried now since this woman’s husband saw me take the pictures and knows I’ve got physical proof that they allowed their child to be in a dangerous situation. I’m confident in my parenting ability and in the care I take of my children. They’re safe, happy, well-nourished and allowed to grow as they will. I certainly don’t want them to grow up to be fearful, nor do I want to make them slaves in their own home.
I’d love to get some other parents’ opinions. Is it OK to allow a seven-year-old to be out and around in a safe neighborhood without an adult present?
- Who are the people in your neighborhood? Kids need to know (sfgate.com)
- A Wink From God: Through The Eyes of The Innocent (socyberty.com)
- A Monster Among Us (socyberty.com)