Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Amateur Mom

I'm finding, that as my kidlets grow up, there are several little awkward events that arise & I'm not sure what the proper etiquette is, or how I should proceed. So, I end up blundering along like an oaf in such a graceless way, resembling: an idiot. And I just wondered how other moms (or dads) handle these not-so-trivial experiences that I have deemed inconvenient & oh-so-uncomfortable.

The first has to do with playdates. My girls are 5 & 7. There are very few people that I feel comfortable enough having my girls spend the afternoon with----without me. I guess I was amazed last school year when Zoey had a friend come over by herself for a playdate. The mom had never met me before, yet trusted me with her child for a few hours. I think this was her 3rd or 4th child. So maybe by the time you get to that last kid you're just OVER it?

Tomorrow the girls & I are heading down the street for a playdate with a friend of Pazely's. I had to tell the mom that my hubby & I don't feel comfortable just letting our kids go solo for playdates. So, all 3 of us will be trudging along. Is that silly? It doesn't feel silly to me. But what's a nice way to let someone know that you don't feel comfortable with your child going to their house alone? My attempt at trying to express this came out sounding uber goofy. I don't want any of the parents to think I don't trust them. But I guess it boils down to this: I don't trust them. I have heard every good thing about this particular family we'll be visiting tomorrow & I know people that know them, etc. I would even trust them to have Pazely for a few hours on a playdate. But there is another equation in this: dad. Mr. WhiMSy love is a self-proclaimed over-protective dad. (I honestly fear for any boy who comes a-courtin'. At the proper age of course. Which is 40.) And we panic at the thought of ANY awful thing happening to our children. So we guard them when we can. We know it can't be forever. But when do we let go for such a seemingly "simple" thing as a playdate?

I secretly hope I'm "that" mom----you know, the cool/fun/kooky one all the neighborhood kids & my girls & their friends flock to? Because, I can totally handle their friends at MY house. But that can't happen EVERY time. My girls will want to eventually escape this nuthouse to find freedom & independence on occasion.

I seriously look forward to any advice you have. Opinions? Wisdom? Silly or helpful anecdotes?
And, in the future, you might see more "Amateur Mom" posts pop up. I love that title. One of the meanings of amateur is: "a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons. " (And I'm CERTAINLY not getting paid for this job.) Another meaning is: "a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity." The slightly sad, yet honest truth is: I'll always be an amateur. I don't think I'll ever feel experienced enough or skilled enough in my field of mommy-work to think I have this whole parenting thing under control. It's not meant to be a negative title at all. I'm a mom because I LOVE being a mom. I just don't happen to get the benefits of the professional world. But they don't get mine either.


  1. I think it would be ridiculous in this day & age to just drop your child off at someone's house!!
    Sure...I know people who do, but I totally disagree with them.
    I've been along with my son on playdates and felt a little uncomfortable at first, but the moms were not weirded out by us. That I know of, lol.
    Bottom line-you never know who could show up after you leave.

  2. love your take on "amateur mom" I think that age 5 was right around the age we started doing solo playdates... but always with a family we already knew. So i think that maybe after you've been over to the neighbor's a few times you might be able to take the step and let her go by herself for a few hours... with you right down the street, of course. ;)

  3. I know you are searching for the proper etiquette on this one but I whole heartedly agree with you. They are your children and you should follow your heart, I don't think there are any parent's out there that wouldn't understand. You are your child's advocate! Besides what one parent is comfy with doesn't mean another should be or not, it is individual perspectives that help in making child rearing decisions.

    That being said, a way to say that without coming off offensive, is say, I hope you don't mind my joining in on the fun, is there anything I can bring? We don't allow that yet in our family. Nough said and very polite.

  4. I am exactly the same way.

    I've taken one of acquaintances' boys on a day-trip to the aquarium, but we've known each other from daily preschool drop-offs the year before, Vacation Bible school for two years, etc... so that was different. But all the kids that Zack hangs with, it's pretty much understand that if you say "Play Date" or "Birthday Party", the parent is coming, too.

  5. okay luv,
    I am not a mom, but I was a nanny for 10 years...(I know, intense, right?) something I learnt from that was that if you dont want to have a playdate at another persons house, just say that your daughter (use her name) "really wants to play at her own house". or you could say paizely really wants to show (friend) her littlest pet shop stuff at home"...sooner or later you will have to just take the next step and let them have a playdate at their friends house, its good for their independence and confidence and social growth.
    (are any of these freinds neighbours? maybe that would be good, they would be closer)

    just try to trust. the gift of trust is a gift you give yourself, and others.

    If you feel its time, and comfortable with it, talk with your girls, and empower them. ( in kid language give them ways to protect themselves) like "use your words and never go naked unless your at home or at the beach...based around your comfort level.

    I hope this helps.
    take care! and good luck!

  6. (ps, you dont even have to post the last message, you can just keep it for yourself.)

  7. ( I meant my commment) not your post!!!

  8. Oh Whimsy-girl, I think you are right on track for this day and age. We were a lot like you and your husband when our 17 and 19yo were 5 and 7. There were very few places that we allowed them to go, and even fewer where we allowed them to spend the night. Even still, Sky, our youngest, is almost 11 years old and she doesn't spend the night anywhere except one friend's house.

    It boils down to this for me--I feel responsible for where I allow my kids to go and the decisions I make for them. If they are put into danger because of those decisions, I am responsible. That's just me--I don't fault anyone for the way they parent--I just know I would feel so responsible for allowing them into a situation where they were hurt.

    I am also big on teaching our kids to be best friends with eachother, because after all, they will have their relationships with eachother forever, unlike most childhood friendships. Not to mention, I never wanted any of my kids to have to come home and tell me that so-and-so touched them...and the aftermath of having something like that happen to them is even more heart-wrenching.

    Having said that, I do believe that if you see your children chomping at the bit to "get out" every so often, it might be good for you and dh to try to seek out families that you can get to know so that your kids will have somewhere you two are comfortable with for the girls to go. What you are doing now by "tagging along" can go a long way in getting to know a family on that level, and perhaps even foster lifelong friendships between other siblings, and even your two families. :)

    Some people won't understand, but most will. They likely treasure their kids like you do and have some ground rules they have set for their own families.

    Keep on keepin' on, sweetie. :)

  9. I have two girls, currently ages 10 and 13. I consider myself to be a very protective mother...overly, at times. And, my children would absolutely agree with me, even as they get older.

    I still don't allow my kids to hang out at a friend's house where I haven't at least met the parents. I have a unique advantage, as I live in a small town, so everyone knows everyone else...just about. It's a tight community, so I can ask around or I can get to know the parents in advance of my kids hanging out over there by talking with them at school pick-ups/drop-offs or at the coffee shop or at a local fund raiser or something...maybe even at the farmer's market. I need to know everything...who they are, where they work, where they live, how many kids they have, etc...and all contact info.

    I'm always surprised by how many parents will let me take their children without the slightest bit of information about me. I just had a mother, today, who needed a ride for her daughter to camp. She doesn't know me from Adam and is going to drop off her daughter with me and I'm going to drive her a half an hour away to camp with my daughter. She doesn't even know if I have car insurance or if I drink or what. I don't know, people are different. My children are THE MOST IMPORTANT people in my of the list, so overprotective or not, I check out the situation first.

    My youngest daughter HAD a friend whose parents don't seem to get along and I had heard stories of the Dad drinking and the mother would forget to show up or show up late (hour late) for pick-ups. Then there were "stories" tied to everything that made no sense. Eventually, I realized that this is NOT a family I wanted my child to spend time with. They can meet now and then at MY house or at a public place, like the beach, but that's it.

    Whether you know it or not, you have a motherly instinct. Go with your gut and your heart and you should be fine. Nobody should be offended by your feelings. Be honest.

    Sorry I've rambled's a Mom thing, lol.

  10. I don't think you are over protective at all! I don't have kids but I wouldn't let my future children go over to someone's house whose parents I have never met! I mean, eventually I would think I would let them go over without me but that would be after I met & talked to the parents and everything. I would never just let them go over and have never met them like the girl's parents did.

  11. First of all, if you aren't "That" mom (the cool one) I don't know who is! You have to be the coolest mom ever.

    I think it is great for you to be aware and not let your kids run off all willy-nilly to anybody's house. Eventually as they get older I hope that you will allow them some time alone with friends whose parents you trust. Sleepovers and playdates without your mom are a fun part of growing up and becoming independent.

    My hubby wasn't allowed to go to the houses of his friends or neighbors and never got to attend a sleepover or bday party- ever! He feels like he really missed out and the social awkwardness became really apparent as he got older. His mom never got comfortable enough to trust him with a little independence in small doses because she didn't trust other people with her kids (even when he was in jr. high! lol) But that is a whole other story...

  12. Aw Nik, your girls ARE too young to go off by themselves. Because you know, you just never know. You don't know who comes and goes in any particular household. What a good mom you are:).

  13. i am totally with you on this. and i make no excuses or feel bad about it at all. when it comes to your kids, you can never be too safe, is my opinion. especially now that we know what we know about all the really creepy horrible stuff happening out there. (and just look at a megan's law map of your town and it will tell you quickly how much you really are surrounded by perverts. and those are just the ones that got caught.)

    i would NEVER in a million years, send my kids with someone i didn't know enough to say that i really trust them. ever. and i am totally ok with feeling this way. :)

  14. hi, i completely agree with you! i have 2 daughters, 3 and 6 years old, and i would never let my eldest go alone! i'm living in italy, in a small town, everything here is extremely timeless and calm, but it is better not to trust these periods! when we were young it was different but nowadays everything can be a, as you see there are people who agree with you worldwide, we are all amateur mums..of course. have a great day!

  15. Nope- you are not out of line. We (my coworkers and I) JUST had this conversation yesterday. My kids (Olivia will be 4, Jackson is 16 months) and I don't let them go to any house without me obviously. Dina's son is 7 and he plays in the neighborhood with other kids. Dina is out in the yard, but if the boys go play video games or ride bikes, she can't leave because her daughter is severly handicapped so she's kind of stuck. Her son checks in, and is gone for no more than hour at a time.

    If it were me, I'd be leary about your 5 year old going off on her own, but 7...maybe. It would have to be someone you know and someone close. But then you'd have to be strict with the rules. Like set up perimeters of where she can/can't go on a bike or whatever- and if she crosses those perimeters, make sure she knows the consquence.

    I remember being really young and riding my bike all over the place and it wasn't even that long ago. BUT, times have changed and I think it's the parents job to be responsible and know the not so great neighbors. I have a pedophile with two girls living right behind me, and Olivia wants to play with them. I don't feel comfortable- so I struggle with explaining that. And you could do a trial run- let the 7 year old go on her own, but call the parents periodically to check in. But 5 I think is still too young to go without a parent. :)

  16. I don't think there's anything wrong with your approach. I only let my 8-year-old daughter have play dates at other's homes if I know the parents -- and I don't mean "know" as in I waved at them in the carpool lane at school once. If she wants to have a playdate with someone whose family we don't know, I insist we have it here or at a public place (i.e. the park).

  17. While I am in agreement with the other moms that your five year old might not be ready for drop off playdates, I do want to say that things actually ARE NOT anymore dangerous than in our day, we are all just MORE AWARE of the dangers now. We all have to balance the dangers which have always been, with our own gut instincts, and our own kids (my eldest, who's 7, in my opinion is less likely to say "NO" to danger than my four year old!). You seem like an amazing parent who will figure this out as you and Mr. Whimsy Love go along! Love reading the blog. From one amateur to another.

  18. I've never commented before, though I've read your blog for a while. This topic however, needs commenting on!

    While your kids are plenty old to be on playdates without you, you should NEVER let your kid go to another's house without knowing them first. I disagree with the comment above, things ARE in many MANY ways more dangerous than they used to be. Yes, we are aware of more. But it's technology that makes our lives very dangerous. TV, internet, GUNS in homes, etc.
    Whether there is visible danger or not, you still need to know the rules of that household - what is being allowed. Do the parents allow their kids unsupervised computer time? What is the movie situation in the house? How about things like caffeine (if your children aren't allowed it, you wouldn't believe how many adults are willing to offer it - even coffee - to kids). Again, is there a gun in the house and what is the parents attitude towards them and is it locked up?
    What is the language like in the house? Do they play fight, are you ok with it if they do?
    Is the Dad going to be there? What is he like? Mom's can be VERY bad to their kids, but frankly Dad's have a worse track record for VERY serious crimes.
    My husband is a police officer, and he has seen enough "harsh realities" to last several lifetimes. Bad things DO happen, unfortunately, that is why YOU are there. To protect your kids.

    BUT. . .don't go nuts. Don't spend everyday afraid. Just be smart. Meet the parents fist, go to their house and hang out. If they don't want you there, then that's a real good sign that your kid shouldn't be there either. Watch for signs, are their kids happy and unafraid of their surroundings and parents? Just looking at a child can tell you a lot.

    Good luck and don't panic. Trust your instincts and you'll be fine.

    luvs, aby

  19. We have to do what's best for our family (especially when it comes to the safety of our children) regardless of what others may think or do themselves. Of course we need to be kind and fair in our following through of those choices. If we're going to have a "family rule" like that we should make sure that we are consistent with it; not slacking on that "family rule" with one friend and not another. That will only lead to hurt little girls and hurt mommies-we don't want that.

    Your girls are still young and have lots of play date opportunities ahead of them. Eventually the time will come when they are older and you'll have a circle of friends that you're comfortable with them doing play dates and such alone.

    It is so hard making these decisions..and we need to give ourselves some slack and realize that our thoughts about these kinds of things change with the seasons and remember that as a parent it's okay to say "no."

  20. Thanks for posting about this, I feel the same new-to-me about these solo playdates and I'm really appreciating the dialogue in your comments. Reading and learning. Great ideas.

  21. Since my boys are close in age, we have rarely done the "playdate" thing, it just isn't necessary. Kids in the neighborhood playing at each other's houses and them playing together has always been fine.

    My 10 year old asked last year to play with a friend at his house for the first time, but I knew the parents. I let him go once and wasn't crazy about the supervision so it never happened again unless they were at my house.

    You will see that the kids will feel uncomfortable when things aren't right to them. My 10 year old prefers to stay home with his brothers and invite the kids here.

    Don't feel bad about any decisions you make in your kids' best interest. They are the most valuable thing you will ever be responsible for and your job is to make hard decisions.

    I think you're on the right track. Keep it up!

  22. I just wanted to put in my 2cents... My now 4 year old has been friends with a neighbor a year older (one block away) from the time she was almost 2. After weekly playdates (with both moms attending) for probably a year, we moved to playdates with one mom (mostly). We had a sleepover at each house sometime last year. Since friend has a new baby sister, this week will be the second sleepover at our house.

    We have very similar parenting styles and, though I know the TV may be on more there than at our house, it's not a lot more and the time the girls have together is valuable to me as well as the time I get to get stuff done while she's over there.

    What I worry more about is in the next year or two when the girls will be wanting to be riding their bikes independantly... living in a big city, busy streets, etc. I learned to ride on a quiet dead-end street.

  23. I think using the word amateur is so very open minded. It allows u the freedom to continue to grow make mistakes and learn on a daily basis. It shows ur kids that we have their best interests @ heart. That said. Yikes I have 3 kids and yes I'd say I'm more open to letting kids have playdates but not with people I've never met or don't know really well! Even with that my 7 year old has never had a sleep over and 10 year old only 2 very close friends. To b honest she would rather have her friends here. I am flabbergasted (husband as well) that people just freely drop off their kids for the nite nad don't know me. And the sign of the times isn't excuse. People have always done wacky things but now we r just more aware and cautious and there's nothing wrong with that. U may completely trust someone but u don't know if uncle brother friend aunt cousin etc could drop off n b some freak. Soooo...I think if people don't get that u want to tag along with ur kid to playdate or sleep over for that matter than too bad for them. Those people r missing out on a person with valuable insight on love. Anyway. I loved everyones thoughts and its nice to know I'm not the only mom out there that thinks their kids should never leave home til they're 80! Lol


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