My daughter returns home from a playdate at one of her best friend's homes. She tells me about the day and is quite excited that she, her friend and friend's younger sister were allowed to walk to the park by themselves!
She is proud. She is happy.
That is, until she has to help me gather my eyeballs, which have popped from my skull and are rolling on the hard wood floor. I do not say anything against the best friend's parents but my daughter senses I am not quite as proud as she was just a moment ago. I tell her that I was just surprised, as that mother can't see the park from her window.
Weeks have passed and I've had time to relax. Everyone got to the little park and back just fine. My daughter and this friend are inseparable most of the time; the only variation is when my daughter sticks to the friend's little sister instead. Mostly, when they all get together, they are The Three Female Musketeers! They get into trouble together at times but they stick together.
I know it was not wrong to let the girls venture forth on their own. My worry is always that "the stranger" will say the one thing we have not discussed and my girl will get in his car. Yet those crafty strangers are usually singling out solitary children, not a band of three. If someone tried to con that group, as long as one of them was smart enough not to go, the other two would stick with her.
I've talked with the friend's father--though we came to this subject in a roundabout way--he mentioned that while he "probably ought to be concerned about kidnappings," he is "much more concerned about traffic." He's right. The odds are much better that a distracted driver will get to her before a predator.
When the girls are over here, I still don't let them leave our street without me. (As worried as I get about losing my own children, I don't want to run the risk of losing someone else's)! I considered not letting her go over to that friend's home anymore and just letting them play here.
My daughter is smart though and perhaps I should trust her a bit more. (The next time she went to that friend's house, she diplomatically told her friend she just did not want to go to the park that day and asked to play in her backyard). The last time she went, the girls did go to the park (with one more friend, so there was a pack of four). She quickly told me that the friend's mother let them walk but she got in the car and met them there.
In any case, everyone is home safe and sound. So I'll try to remember to just keep swimming...