Should I Stay or Should I Go?

  1. As a parent who hosted a skate party for an 8 year old and her friends, I appreciated that some parents stuck around. There was no way I could keep my eye on it all. Was it a safe spot, sure. Is anything perfect? Nope. But what helped was having extra adults for kids who needed to re-tie skates, kids who needed a bathroom break, kids who wanted to go to games, kids who wanted to keep skating. Did I *expect* parents to hang out and help? Not at all! But I welcomed them, gladly gave then pizza and cake, and most importantly my gratitude.

    • Randmlusk says:

      I agree.  I have three kids and love to host memorable parties for them, sometimes biting off a little more than I can chew in the process.  I have always been grateful when parents decide to hang around and offer an extra set of eyes, or hands, especially in crowded, public places!  Despite my wondering in my comment above if we (I) worry more than I should, it can be a little much trying to singlehandedly man all of the thing you mention!

    • suburbanturmoil says:

       Awesome! Honestly, if the skate center had been less crowded, I probably would have left after a little while. But with so many people there, I could hardly keep track of one girl, let alone seven.

  2. Tracy W. says:

    I think “go with your gut” is the most important message here; not that something bad would have happened, but that you felt the instinct to stay and your daughter asked you to. My daughter is 16 1/2 now. Our deal has always been that if she wants out of a situation, she just has to tell me. She doesn’t have to explain it to anyone, not even me, just tell me she wants to go and that’s it. My mom loved me with all her heart, but like many mothers, she would interrogate me over everything. I stayed in too many dangerous situations to avoid that interrogation. My mother was once witness to my daughter texting that she’d changed her mind about a sleep-over and she was aghast that I wouldn’t ask my daughter for details, but I made her hold her tongue. Sometimes my daughter tells me and other times she doesn’t. I even taught her that she doesn’t need an explanation for herself, if she feels uncomfortable- she doesn’t need a name or a reason to go with her gut and come home. That’s exactly what happened Saturday night when she’d asked to sleep over with friends, then sent me a text asking me to pretend that I’d changed my mind and demanded she’d come home, so I did. It makes my heart swell that she grew up this way. In fact, the party she skipped out on just turned out to be one where my son attended and slept over, but his friend drove home drunk and was killed in a car accident. It’s so important to teach our children to follow their instincts. (Sorry, rambling today b/c I’m so in shock that we lost this boy who I loved.)

    • suburbanturmoil says:

       That’s heartbreaking, Tracy. I’m glad your kids are okay and I love your idea of not forcing your daughter to explain herself.

  3. amandamagee says:

    So true. I really appreciate you writing on some of these topics that, as so many things in life, open you up to potential criticism. We have to do what is best for each of our families in each moment. Sometimes we may look back and wonder if we ought to have done things differently, but knowing that it felt right at the time is so important.

  4. Kim says:

    Thank you for letting us know we are not alone in our feelings!

  5. Randmlusk says:

    Going with your gut is almost never a mistake, even when it is awkward. 

     The only thing I would disagree with, is, “It (bad things)happens at sleepovers. It happens more often than we’d like to think it does”.  Honestly, and I believe that statistics will back me up, bad things happen a lot less often than we have been conditioned, in this era of parenting, to believe. 

     I truly believe, that our kids are in fact, much safer than we worry ourselves into thinking.  So often, we muse about how “when we were kids, we did…” and how “you can’t let your kids do that anymore.”  The world we live in is not one bit more dangerous for our kids that the one we grew up in.  We are just more scared,  When bad things do happen, and make no mistake, I am not suggesting that they do not… we are bombarded with it, and instinctively, we begin to believe that such things are around every corner.  They simply are not, and I think our kids (mine included) are missing out on certain aspects of the way we grew up.

    None of this is to say that you were wrong in your situation, or anytime you have a gut feeling- no one is going to advocate for our kids the way a mother will.  I just wonder, sometimes if we let our fears drive us more than they should.  Again, not suggesting that this is the case in the secenario you present here, but the statement about “bad things” essentialy being more common than we think, is something I think about a lot as I observe modern day (and my own) parenting.

    • Randmlusk says:

      I just want to make sure this does not come across as criticism at all, I, and most of my mom friends face this same things very often.  It jsut gets me thinking.  I’m not ready for “free range parenting” by any stretch, and I am afraid to let my 5th grade daughter walk the 3 blocks (in a very safe neighborhood) home from school alone (and don’t let her).  I just wonder when/how I became so fearful.

      • suburbanturmoil says:

        Oh no, I totally understand. I have this argument with myself all the time. I really, REALLY don’t want to be overprotective. At the same time, my husband and I were both shocked at the amount of crappy stuff that did happen as my older girls were growing up, from a very inappropriate assistant soccer coach on one of their teams to men exposing themselves at the bus stop outside their school– I think about crap like that  in a crowded skating rink. I know my eight year old would not be prepared to handle these kinds of people.

        A few weeks ago, I let Punky and a friend walk with our dog to our neighborhood playground for the first time by themselves- It’s just a few houses down and we live in a very safe, small suburban neighborhood. They came back in five minutes, saying that as soon as they got there, a man drove by, stopped his car in front of the playground, and watched them. They got scared and came home. WHAT THE WHAT?! It’s so frustrating.

        • Randmlusk says:

          It is that kind of crap that makes me question myself so often.  I want them to be more independant and enjoy the kind of autonomy and self-reliant freedom that I knew as a kid, but then you hear about stuff like that!  Sometimes I don’t know what to do.  I guess that is what our intuition is for.  I guess I worry that I am losing the ability to discern between fear, and intuition though.  I want to follow one, but not let the other control me.

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      I think from my perspective, having raised two girls through this same age, bad things happened WAY more than I was expecting. And I don’t mean kidnappings or shootings or newsmaking events. I mean creepy stuff. Men who were inappropriate. Teenagers saying or doing things in front of or to younger kids. Parents who didn’t monitor Internet/phone activity in any way. Things that you would obviously NOT want your kids to be exposed to. I was trying to be the “cool stepmom” when my older girls were growing up, and in some ways, it came back to bite me. Now I’m trying to be more vigilant, but to do it behind the scenes as much as possible so that my kids FEEL at least like they’re getting more and more independent. Does that make sense?

  6. NancyB says:

    When my son was approximately 4 years old, he was invited to a birthday party for a pre-school friend.  At his house.  I said sure!  Arrived at the house, met the parents, dropped him off, went shopping.
    Got back to the house an hour or so later to find out – IT WAS A FAMILY PARTY.  THE BIRTHDAY BOY’S FAMILY! And my son and a couple of kids from pre-school were invited as well.  NO ONE was supervising/helping/acknowledging them!
    I went in, had some cake and then stayed until the other boy’s mother showed up because he didn’t want me to leave!
    NEVER AGAIN…..
    I have stayed for parties when my son was young in the same situation whether asked or not – especially pool parties!  There was a time or two I was the only one in the pool with the kids and you know what? I didn’t give a shit what I looked like – and it’s not so much I didn’t want anyone to drown.  It’s because they wanted someone to play with.
    But back to a skating party, etc.  The birthday child’s parent has alot more going on then they can handle and if even to just take care of my child, I will stay.  More often then not, I would end up helping other kids too.

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      Ha, I had the same pool party experience too, and wrote a post about it a few years ago! My daughter was not a strong swimmer at the time and I had to get in the pool with her and all the kids, while all the  parents stood around the pool fully dressed. AWKWARD.

      • NancyB says:

         I remember that post!  Sometimes I think I just get along better with kids than adults!  I did feel silly at times but I’m so bad at small talk it gave me a needed “out”.

  7. Dr J says:

    You are perfectly in the right. If anything, I am disappointed in the host in not graciously making you feel welcome while you stayed to keep an eye on your daughter. That being said, we bend over backwards to host parties that are both child and parent friendly, with adult snacks and beverages so as to encourage the parents NOT to leave. We do this because: a) we’re incredibly social and love to entertain b) we hating being in loco parentis as some children are annoying and some parents get loco when you are parentising in their absence, and c) we want to get to know the parents of our childrens’ classmates. Was it our party, we would have welcomed you to be in our company as you stayed behind. 

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      The parents were very nice- just busy, as you’d expect, trying to keep track of everyone. They didn’t make me feel awkward, I just DID because… FOUR HOURS AT THE SKATING RINK! ME! ALONE! 😉

  8. suburbanturmoil says:

    I’m going to include this comment too, which I read the other day and that has really stuck with me. It’s from “The Mission of Motherhood”:

    “Our children need us to help them have the gift of a pure mind, free not only from the violence, immorality and pornography that is so prevalent in our society but also from the cynicism and hopelessness that pull at so many. They need time to grow their roots in love, innocence, kindness, truth, morality, and trust. When they are strong and tall, they will be able to withstand and battle the forces of life, but not until they have been established first in their root- or heart- systems.”

    This is very tricky, isn’t it? I don’t want my kids to be too sheltered, but at the same time there are many things out there that they aren’t prepared to process or handle, and it’s my job to shield them from those things until they’re “strong and tall” and rooted enough to deal with them.

    DEEP THOUGHTS AT THE SKATING RINK. Ugh.

  9. Katelynn says:

    Again….I could not agree more!  I have done the same thing with Girl Scouts.  I could just drop off DD and leave, but sometimes there is just a little look on her face or I see the 13 other kindergarteners and the leader who is chatting it up with the other parents. Hoenstly, if my DD walked out the door….I don’t think she’d notice!  (meetings are held at the publuc library, btw)  So I stay.  And sometimes I watch!  I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.  As long as my little girl feels safe, who cares. 

    I have to say that I do not think this, or your skating situation, consititutes “hovering” or “helicoptering.”  Protecttive…yes; helicopter…no.  Being a helicopter would mean you were out skating with your DD or would come running every time she fell.

  10. mamakatslosinit says:

    My sister and I were JUST talking about this on Friday. The exact same thing happened to her only her stance was more…”there’s no way that mom was going to be able to keep an eye on 30 kids playing laser tag…if my son (Kindergarten) needs to go to the bathroom, I need a competent parent to go with him.” Not that the birthday mom wasn’t competent, but she had cake to cut and so many other things to pay attention to. So my sister was one of the only moms who stayed. It’s totally an individual call to make. My kids won’t allow me to leave them yet…

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      You’re all making me feel a lot better! It’s nice to know that so many women out there feel the same way, even if they weren’t there with me at the skating rink. 🙂

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  12. Radioamgirl says:

    Love, love, love this post. I have felt the same way!

  13. Radioamgirl says:

    Love, love, love this post. I have felt the same way!

  14. Judy says:

    I agree 100% with what you did.  She’s only eight, and there were so many people there she didn’t know, including lots of older kids.  I think she needed you to keep an eye on her.  I’m sure it made her feel comfortable too, knowing you were there.  

  15. Beth says:

    I did/do the same thing all the time — birthday parties, Sunday school classes, whatever. If my son wasn’t being supervised well or was uncomfortable having me leave, I just hung around. I often felt like I was the only parent doing that, but I knew it was right for my kiddo. Good on you for going with your gut!

  16. Gretta says:

    I absolutely 100% would have stayed…. Only eight…. Crowded rink…. Unsure on skates…. Minimal supervision… The devil is in the details. Good job Mom. The problem would have been what if you couldn’t stay?? What if you had to pick up Bruiser or something??

    • suburbanturmoil says:

      Ugh, I don’t even want to THINK about that possibility. I don’t know- I would have wanted to take her home and caught back up with them during the sleepover portion. I think Punky would have probably been okay with that, too.

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