Saturday, January 12, 2013

Drugs and car theft, a playdate away?

I have three children. My oldest will be seven in one week. I can't believe that she has gotten so big so fast. The moment that sweet girl was brought into the world I started to worry. I worry about everything, all the time. Now that she's getting older there is a new worry.

My Fish

Friends


I moved around a lot as a child. So I was always the new girl and friendships were always well established by the time I arrived. I don't think my parents ever had to really consider what kind of kids I was hanging out with or what their parents were like. Before any permanent damage could be done...we'd move. I was a social butterfly (much like my oldest) I could hang out with any group or clique...almost every group. I was never a part of "the popular" group.

My oldest started going to a day care at 18 months old. Our town is very small, so she now has friends that she has been around since she was 2 or 3 years old. I think it's awesome and I'm happy for her. But I am also a little scared. I've had a the same conversation with a few other moms in my area. Sometimes you see the parents of other kids and although it's wrong in so many ways...you absolutely do not want your kid near them. Partially because it's a glimpse into the future of the child, but also because it doesn't feel safe.

When my oldest was in preschool I had noticed a father of one of her classmates always being extra friendly. He would always stop me and insist that my daughter was asking him if she could come over for a play date. When I asked her about it she would tell me that the father was the one telling her she needed to come over.

 Creepy right? 

His child had a birthday party that we couldn't attend and so I went by the house to drop off a gift. The house smelled horrible before you ever made it up the driveway. Like wet dog and body odor. I had trouble not gagging when they opened the door. I tried to make a quick get away, but he and his wife followed me out to the car. She insisted she wanted to meet the girl their child had talked so much about. I found this even stranger because my daughter never talked about playing with their child at all. And then in a moment all the bells went off in my head. The sliding door to my van was open and my younger daughter was sitting on that side. The creepy dad leaned in to talk to her and touched her leg. It wasn't obvious or completely inappropriate....but it was off in some way.

The following school day my daughters teacher pulled me aside. She told me she had been meaning to speak with me about this man. She said she had noticed his interest in my daughter. At that age my daughter was very affectionate to everyone. Her teacher told me that he would seek her out and hug her in what she felt was not particularly ok. To make this story short I'll just say that my husband had a face to face with the guy we now call "Creepy dad". Now he doesn't look in our direction. But he coaches soccer and little league. We've ended up at birthday parties together. Our children will always be in the same grade...so he'll always be there.

Maybe because of this (and working in law enforcement) I have trust issues. I'm very lucky that my daughters closest friends are awesome and I love their parents. But I will admit I have shut down a couple of friendships. Because in my imagination I could see those kids in 7 years smoking weed and having sex. Yeah, if you saw some of these kids, even in first grade, you'd say the same thing. I can even hear my daughter crying after being caught sneaking out telling me who she was going to meet.

I believe we can give our children trust and respect and try to keep them active and out of trouble. But in 2013 we also have to be aware of who they are hanging out with and what those kids are teaching them.

It makes me sad. I remember being 7 and riding my bike on my street. I could go to any of the houses on our cul de sac. My parents didn't know all our neighbors...but it was O.K. There was a disabled woman on the corner who would give me quarters for rubbing her shoulders. Completely benign and yet in this day and age it would be a totally different story. Maybe we know too much now..a blessing and a curse.

I don't think my children are going to grow up to be car thieves and drug users. But I'm not going to try and encourage relationships with kids whose parents think like me......just in case.