Saturday, July 2, 2011

Is It Normal Practice to Play Ding Dong Ditch With Your Kids?

Okay, so maybe I'm off in some faraway world where things make sense to other parents that do not make sense to me. Am I that out of touch?

Maybe it's because I'm a bit overprotective of my children when it comes to leaving them with people who I don't really know...

And, maybe I'm just weird...and I am blowing things out of proportion.

Today, an incident happened that completely blew my mind. I'm still sitting here, utterly perplexed, as I type this.

So, here goes...

My oldest son, Lucas, came inside the house with the neighbor's little boy. (I think he's about 4 years old.) Well, actually, it's the neighbor's son's child. But, that has nothing to do with the point here. Lucas tells me that "the lady" (now, I believe "that lady" is the aunt of the child) came halfway down the sidewalk toward our house and then sent him to our door, where Lucas was. She didn't ask if it was a good time, if it was okay for him to come over and play...nothing. And, then turned and went back to the house. Talk about ding-dong ditch!

My children were running around, inside and outside of the house, in the backyard playing in and out of  the kiddie pool, and otherwise just having a good time while I was getting some work done on the computer. They were all keeping each other busy, and, basically, everyone was getting along fine. There was no need for me to be on my toes, supervising what was going on, because things were happy happy and hunky-dory.

Then along comes another...

We're talking about a very active, normally rough and tough 4 year old little boy here. Not to say that my boys are sissies, but the truth is, we don't tolerate hitting and roughness between our boys. We expect them to play nicely, not throw things and keep the splashing down in the little pool, because the little guys are playing with them, too. Well, that went out the window when the neighbor's child came over. He was ready to get down and dirty. And, he's a little boy, so I guess that's to be expected. You can't really blame children for the behaviors that their parents allow them to get away with.

But, here are my problems:

1) With even a small, kiddie pool in the backyard (as opposed to a large pool), I'm not completely comfortable with having children who are not mine playing in the backyard unsupervised. Ultimately, if something happened, wouldn't I be the responsible party?

2) Isn't it normal common courtesy to politely ask someone when you want to drop your child off on them? (This is not the first time in my motherhood where parents have simply dumped their children at my house, without saying much at all. Maybe they think that I won't notice another kid running around? Or maybe they think that I'm the perfect candidate for a free babysitter, because I have nothing better to do than watch kids?)

3) If it was me, I wouldn't feel comfortable dropping any of my children off at a neighbor's house (or anyone else's house, for that matter) that I barely knew, especially if that neighbor was pregnant and had six children already unless she had invited my child over.

What Did I Do?

What else? After letting off some steam to my husband (who didn't seem to be phased by the situation), I marched right next door and let the neighbor (or auntie) know that my children were playing in the yard unsupervised because I had work to do on the computer and my husband was going to be running out for a while. I had to walk past the father, because he was involved in a cell phone conversation that was apparently more important than his son.

And she said that it was okay that he was unsupervised - "he can swim good" and she would send the father over to check in on him.

So, my husband, bless his heart, went outside and supervised for a while and then I took over for a tiny little while myself. Then, about an hour and a half later (it is really hot out there today), and only after a ton of, "No, please don't splash" and "We don't hit each other" and "No jumping off of the slide into the pool" and "Be careful" and a million other polite chastising remarks (all aimed at one particular child), our kids had had enough and were getting ready to come inside. The neighbor's child wanted to come in, too, completely dripping wet and asking for food.

Oh, did I mention that within the whole hour and a half, the father did not once come and check on his son?

Then, one of my kids told me, "He [name excluded] has chicken pox." I looked and noticed that his belly had red spots and the pants line also was covered with the same red spots.

I said, "What makes you think they are chicken pox?"

And, my child said, "Because he [name excluded again] said he has chicken pox."

Wow, just wow.

I quickly helped the little guy gather his shirt and shoes (I asked nicely to get them and he responded "I can't" LOL I'm so glad we have taught our children some personal independence) and walked him back next door. Nobody was there, except the father who was pacing in the driveway and talking on the cell phone (still). He saw us coming, but did not ask the person on the other end of the line to hold on, he just nodded and turned away. So, I walked up to him and said, "He said he was hungry." I wanted to ask if the child had chicken pox, but the father was far too busy on the phone to be worried about what the woman next door who had just babysat his son had to say.

Hmmmm....I wonder why?

So, I sit here, I crazy? Is it really okay to start dropping my kids off at people's houses without asking? Because, I seriously would never feel comfortable doing this!

I have had long conversations with my children (listen, children are children - they don't completely understand the concept of common courtesy) about manners and how they cannot call someone's house and invite themselves or simply show up to other people's houses without both sets of parents having a conversation and me or dad meeting the parents and making arrangements ahead of time. It's just not polite, as far as I'm concerned.

This Isn't the First Time....

I had a similar incident occur when we lived in the Carolinas...only this mother would use "guilt trips" to get me to take her children (not child, children) for the weekend - often. She would call and tell me that her babysitter backed out and she had to work and that her three kids were missing my kids...badly. Her kids were driving her crazy asking if they could come over and play...Funny, I was pregnant back then, too. Again, this was a mother whom we had met at church, but she didn't even know us!

My husband (as usual) wasn't phased by the predicament -he's an angel with kids, but I got tired of it after the first weekend, especially when I couldn't get a hold of her by cellphone throughout the whole weekend. And, even more especially when my 2 year old found medications in the children's bags that I had not been told about. (They needed meds in the evening and morning - wouldn't you, as a mother, tell the person that you are leaving your children with that they needed their meds??? Let alone, warn the other mother that there are meds in their bags so that the other children do not get into them???) This quickly turned into an almost every weekend thing, and sometimes she would just show up with the kids...eventually, I had to tell her that it was just too much for me - and this was when I was 3 weeks away from delivering my 6th child!

Is it me??? Am I the crazy one? Is this a normal practice now?

I know that I can be overprotective of my children, but I find it pretty scary to drop them off with parents that I do not know.

Seriously, am I wayyy out of the loop and why I am the one being targeted? Can someone help me here?

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