Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Petrified

Daphne has suddenly just realized that there is a world outside her fully-fenced yard. Previously, she played once or twice a week with one other boy in our neighborhood during previously scheduled play dates. But suddenly kids have been showing up on the doorstep, asking for her to play, who have never shown up before. And she suddenly wants to go to their houses to play. I see these kids running up and down the sidewalks and streets, around the corners, into and out of each other's houses and yards. And I can see why Daphne wants to be a part of it. It's exciting and independent and FUN. It's also TERRIFYING. To me. She's only four years old! And we live on a busy-ish street. In a crappy neighborhood. With homeless men and drug dealers and polygamist raids on every side.

I know these kids' moms. And they are all good people. But either they are overly naive or I am overly paranoid. Because I am absolutely petrified to think of letting Daphne run crazy around the neighborhood without supervision at her young age.

So I ask those of you who have/have had little kids: What is your take on letting kids leave the yard unsupervised? Do you let them walk to the neighbor's house without a chaperon? Do you make them call when they get there and/or call before they head home? Are they allowed to leave said neighbor's house for another neighbor's house? Can they play out in the front yards? On the sidewalks? If not, at what age do you allow this stuff?

And here's another question: What is the protocol for going to play at another kid's house? Do you let your kids just show up on someone's doorstep to ask if they can play? Or do you make calls first? 'Cause I've had at least 5 neighborhood kids simply show up at my house and ask to come in. And I tend to think that's kind of rude. That maybe their parents should call first and see if it's OK. I don't just show up at their house and ask to come in, do I? but maybe I'm totally out of touch. Maybe this is the way it works with kids. Daphne is my first, so I really have no clue on 4-Year-Old Play Etiquette.

Any thoughts? Enlighten me.

22 comments:

Jen said...

I want to know too, there are older kids in our neighborhood, but most of the families stick to themselves. Mason is making friends at school though, so we will see how long it takes to play either with school friends, or neighbor kids. I am a lot like you, where I dont like them coming to my door asking to play that happened in Lehi but the kids were like 7 and Mason was 2. I also dont like kids running through my yard or whatever. I am all for playdates at my house. lol

Lyns said...

I'm probably odd man out--but ONLY because we live across the street from my brother and his family. So my 3 year old LOVES to go across and play with her cousins and their friends. They stick to their cul-de-sac though. So I can look out my front door (or their front door more often than not) and see or hear them. In your area I'd be more likely to let the kids come over and hang out--then you know where Daphne is.

Judi said...

I happen to live on a dead end street and so I am apt to just let Caleb play at will, there are quite a few kids on our street and they all just come and go, no calls! and I have a pretty free view of the whole block from my front window, so I keep close watch on everyone! But it would probably be differetn if I didn't live on a dead end!

Kristina P. said...

I have no idea what I will do, but I probably will be much more cautious that my parents were. It's scary out there!

SO said...

I think that four years old is too young to play out in the neighborhood unsupervised. If she wanted to walk to another neighbors house and you could watch her walk the whole way I think that could work. That is what I did with my kids. I would watch them from the front step to make sure they made it to the house up/down the street safely.

I would talk to the other moms and let them know that you are uncomfortable with your child playing in the front yard and ask that if she does go over to play that they play inside or in the back yards.

I really don't like my kids playing in the front yard. I would much rather have them in the back yard. Even in our little cul de sac.

I try to have my kids call and see if their friends can actually play before they go over and play. I don't mind kids coming to the door but I hate it when they just walk in. They have learned that they have to ask if one of my kids can play first. Unfortunately during the school year the answer is usually no. Unless it's a Friday or a Saturday.

My two middle kids actually have friends who live outside our neighborhood far enough away that I have to drive them to their houses. Which I really don't mind doing because I'm not too fond of the kids in our neighborhood.

My youngest is six and she has some friends that live about a block away. If/when she goes there I usually have an older sibling walk her or she has to call when she arrives.

Not sure if this helped or answered any of your questions. Good luck!

Sarah said...

Don't ask me I have 11 years olds and I still don't know the protocol for this one! Sorry!

Jaime Haney aka ArtsyFartsy.Me said...

!!!??!!! your 4 year old BABY!!!!

I am totally with you on the paranoid thing. my son is 3 and a half and I would have to be tied down and drugged (or dead) before I would let him even walk to the mailbox by himself. ok, I realize I may sound a bit overprotective and I can see all you moms out there with your eyebrows up! :) ha ha... but seriously I feel that is way too young, at least for my kid. but hey, I just got mine out of diapers. I'll worry about paying for surgical removal of my apron strings another time. ;)

just remember: Your kid, Your rules

Koreena said...

I don't let Matty go in the front yard without me, let alone cross the street. We've had one kid show up on our doorstep asking if Matty could come play, but his dad was right there with him on the doorstep. I was glad to see at least ONE parent in this neighborhood that doesn't let their kids out of their site. I let him go play with the kid, and a little while later I saw them both riding bikes on the sidewalk away from the kid's house BUT the dad was outside on the porch keeping an eye on them. Most of the street just lets there kids roam free, running back and forth to eachother's housing (and cutting through my yard to do it) all day long!! Drives me INSANE how they seem to take their kids' safety for granted. Having talked to other moms who feel like I do about this, it really does seem to be a bit of an epidemic here in Utah. Parents just seem to believe their kids are safe here.

So for me, no way will I let my 4-year-old just run free with the other kids up and down the street. That may be okay with other parents, but I'd much rather be on the too cautious side of things.

Koreena said...

Sorry for the errors in that last post. I'm exhausted.

Chelsea said...

I agree with Koreena that it's much more common in Utah than other places. I do think 4 is too young for unsupervised play out in the neighborhood. Maybe if they were with an older sibling, but even then it makes me nervous, especially if the neighborhood is sketchy.

tiburon said...

I think 4 is too young for playing outside of the backyard without supervision. I will allow Olivia to play in our cul-de-sac but only if Ethan and/or Avery is out there.

And I am not a huge fan of the unannounced show up play date. But they happen.

Kado! said...

! your neighborhood sounds like so much fun! I'd love to people watch with you on your front porch!

my 10 year old can play with the neighbors out front...but not my 4 year old unsupervised....we live on a one way road with very little traffic...BUT there are still random crazy people who fly thru...I don't trust that the older kids will be watching for the cars and grab all the little ones out of the way of the cars in time. It makes my 4 year old so sad when his older brother gets to play outside that I usually invite the neighbor boy inside to our house to play with both boys so I don't have to hear my youngest cry...then I can still get things in the house done!

Kado! said...

oh...and I think a call first is SOOO approiate...I hate being caught off gaurd with any visitors!

alex dumas said...

So many comments...not much to add. But if what you are is paranoid, then I am too. I just imagine my little 4 year-old niece riding her big wheel down the street (as she likes to do)... and disappearing. And I would hate myself for not watching her. It would be so easy to swipe a kid that size.

L. said...

Back in the late 1940s when I was 4 years old, we didn't knock. We would stand outside of a friend's house and yell in a sing-song, "Paul and Patti, come out and pl-ay!

If they were in there and their parents said OK, they came out to play. BUT, even way back THEN I was accosted by one flasher, and two (probably abused) neighbor children who suggested I play a "special" game with them their daddy had taught them. And this was in Happy Valley, too!

NO, I would not let Daphne go out and play without supervision! And if neighbor children came to knock, I would pleasantly say, "Here's a post-it note with my phone number. You can come and play after your Mom calls me to ask."

MiaKatia said...

I usually call the kids parents first before the kids go over to someone's house. If they play in the front yard I am out there watching. If they play in the back yard I have my door or window open and I stay down stairs.

Sara said...

In your neighborhood, play it safe. Better paranoid than sorry.

Shawn said...

I would worry about leaving my kids outside by themselves, but I know that my daughter does it, and is ok with it....

Appalachian Woman said...

why is it not appropriate for kids to come and ask?
im not being a smart aleck - just wondered.

Omgirl said...

Appachian Woman--Partly I feel like it's just proper ettiquite to be invited to someone's house rather than to invite yourself over.

And secondly (and it's probably tied to the first in its origins), it puts you on the spot when there's a kid on your doorstep asking to come in. You may not have a good reason but just don't want an extra kid on hand. Or maybe you don't want to hurt his feelings by telling him you don't like him. Or maybe you don't want your child to catch site of him before you tell him it isn't play time because then your child will have a fit. Or maybe it's dinner time and you don't want him to invite himself to dinner too.

I can think of a lot of reasons. But mostly it just feels more polite to call before showing up at someone's house and expecting to be let in.

erica said...

I think it's rather rude to ASK to come in myself. What happened to asking if your friend can come out and play?

With that said, (and maybe it's I'm a Detroiter),4 and even 5 year old's are too young to be out unsupervised.

If I had a fenced in yard, I'd let them start playing outside in the yard lightly supervised at 5, and then take it slowly from there.

André said...

I remember being 3 and running all over the neighborhood unsupervised. It was a very small town. Still, I would never let my kids to that. Even when Mason is 12 I imagine I will have a hard time not holding his hand and walking him everywhere.