On the weekend I was faced with one of those parenting challenges.
A phone message from a Mum asked if the Baby Angel would like to attend a disco/movie night at a local (?) theatre with one of the girls from her class. Now I query 'local' as the suburb in question, Glenelg, is, while only being about a 15-20 in drive away, a hub and a magnet for much social interaction in our city, from all areas and for all age ranges. Specifically, I know my young stepson's older (14) sister spends many evenings and weekends 'down The Bay' apparently just wandering and milling about. So immediately my alarm bells went off.
On querying Baby Angel, she acknowledged that there had been some talk at school about the event. No, as far as she knew it was not a party, Youth Club or Sporting Club event. As far as she knew there wouldn't be any other kids from school there and there was very little else she knew about it. More alarm bells.
Now, I don't know if your home town promotes this latest form of 'baby sitting' but it seems to be all the rage here. The first I heard of it was "LAN" nights at internet cafes where kids are 'locked in' to play computer games against each other for anything up to 12 hours!!! Then there were the cinema promotions. "Drop your kids off for a drink, some junk food and a movie, we lock them in and keep 'em there until you pick them up." This one seems to be an extension of the latter with some form of disco in the foyer before the movie. All sirens are now blaring and red lights are flashing.
I explained to Baby Angel that I was uncomfortable with the idea. I didn't know who else would be there and also what age they would be and what experiences she may be exposed to with questionable supervision. If this is as I suspect, I warned, be prepared for me to say no.
I then drew a deep breath and rang the other mother back. This is always the tricky part. How do you express your own values and beliefs, concerns and decisions without a) implicitly criticising theirs and b) potentially damaging the children's friendship?
She confirmed that the event was as I had suspected and that the age range was up to seventeen!!!! Security involved 'not letting them out'.........not good enough. I let her know that I was uncomfortable with the scenario. Who knows what the girls may encounter or be offered? Who were the adults in charge and what were their values? And after all, they are only 12.......there's plenty of time for them to venture into the wide world in the future....even if they are locked in. Not to mention that they both look older which leaves them particularly vunerable.
To my delight and relief the other mother thanked me. She had been unsure but was being pressured by her daughter and had really needed me to talk her 'into' the idea before she said yes! She was relieved that I had clarified her fears and provided rational explanations to give her daughter when she said no.
Baby Angel looked me in the eye after I got off the phone and said,"Thanks Mum, I wasn't really keen on going anyway!"
So there you go. If you need a 'big, bad, mother' to blame for your parenting decisions, blame me! I have BIG shoulders.
Keep that sword aloft!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!