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.