June 07, 2010

I'm Not A Babysitter

Some people likely think I'm too protective. I keep a close watch on my daughters when I am out and about with them. At the park, I'm not sitting on a bench. I'm right there keeping an eye on my girls. Sometimes I wonder if other parents think "She's already watching four, so she can watch mine, too" because I always seem to end up watching every child in the vicinity.
Here are some examples of this: The other day we went to the park. Hubby and I stayed close to our girls. There were tons of kids at the park. Most of the moms sat together and chatted away, while their children darted here and there. I realize older children don't necessarily need as much supervision, but I'm talking about five and younger. A large portion of these children were at the park for a preschool field trip. If they had been my kids I would have been furious at the lack of supervision. This wasn't a fenced in school playground. It's an open, public park.
At our neighborhood pool yesterday we were hanging out in the "little pool" (don't you dare call it the baby pool) with another family. It just so happened they have twins the same age as my girls. So our six girls played together and we all played with them. Then another little girl came and joined in the fun. No big deal. She was about the same age as all the other girls, fourish. Eventually I looked around. I spotted her mom on the opposite side of the pool, laying on a towel reading a book.... clearly not concerned about where her preschooler was... AT THE POOL! Come on. This has to be one of the most dangerous places to lose track of your child. She came over once, sat for a few minutes and then left. I think she wanted to make sure we had it all under control. Keep in mind our pool does not have a life guard and the little girl didn't know how to swim (early I saw her in the big pool using water wings and clinging to her mom).
I realize everyone has different ways of parenting. I try not to judge because what works best for my family won't work for the next family. I just have a hard time understanding parents who are so oblivious to what their children are doing. The former news reporter in me has seen what can happen to children when their parents turn their heads for an instant. Maybe that's why I'm so protective. But I would rather be safe than sorry.


Sadia said...

I'm with you. The mother in me can't help but take responsibility for the children around me, and then I end up watching kids whose parents are less vigilant than me. I've frequently stayed at parks longer than I'd like because there are unsupervised children present and I can't bear to leave them.

Pools are so frightening to me (my mother's cousin drowned, as well as a child at my employee-provided daycare center - at home) that I don't go unless it's empty or populated by families I know and trust.

The one place I feel comfortable with just being myself in public is on my street. My neighbours and I trust each other to watch our children, and have talked about the level of attention we're each comfortable with, and honour that.

My husband thinks I'm nutty to periodically check the sex offender registry for local offenders, but I think it's important to keep vigilant.

Quadmama said...

I check the sex offender registry from time to time, too. When we were buying our house, I told the realtor I had to check the registry before signing any paperwork. I think he thought I was nuts.

Stephanie Barr said...

Oversight with us depends on where we are. If we're at any kind of pool situation where it might be more than a few inches deep (including a "big" and "little" pool) my children are never out of arm's reach. My six year old will jump fearlessly into any pool.

If we're in the store or walking down the street or in the parking lot, same goes. If Lee's with Roxy (2) at the park.

At home, they get more freedom (and we had a poisoning near-catastrophe with that, though I can't see, even now, how I can entirely preclude it), but they would never play even in the back yard without some supervision and we'd be within arm's reach even in the front yard.

Not sure what that makes me.

Kim said...

Before we moved to our current home in the woods, we lived in a typical neighborhood with lots of houses. I think I was the only SAHM on the street, certainly the only one outside with the kids. Other people (grandparents? sitters?) would send their kids out to play with no supervision, and I really felt a sense of responsibility not only for my 2 daughters but the others: playing together well, staying out of the street, etc.

I kind of enjoyed it, though, because I bonded with all the kids and felt like I was part of something worthwhile—"It takes a village" and all that. I don't think the other families were deliberately taking advantage of me or anything like that (their kids would have been running around outside whether I was there or not), and I voluntarily stepped up to be the street mom, so to speak, offering popsicles and letting the kids play in our yard with our toys, etc.

Oh, Quad: checking the sex offender registry . . . that's a scary thing, isn't it?! So shocking to see how many live around us!

Quadmama said...

We have more freedom in our backyard. I don't feel paranoid if I run inside to put away some laundry, go to the bathroom, etc. But I'm always right back out there to supervise. In the front yard, I don't leave. Too many neighbors speed.

Sarah said...

I'm with you. Connor is almost 4 and the twins are almost 2, but I am always with them. My MIL has mentioned letting Connor play outside (in the non-fenced in area) by himself and didn't understand why I told her absolutely not. I'd rather be an over-protective mom than have something happen.

MaryAnne said...

I'm with you on this. Last year we were at a bday party and a friend offered to watch my two kids while they were in the kiddie pool with her son. I kept an eye on them as well from a distance, and good thing - Johnny went under and I had run thirty feet, jumped into the pool (nine months pregnant) and pulled him out before the friend realized what had happened. It wasn't that she was being careless; she was interacting with her own child - and when toddlers go under, they do it silently.

Quadmama said...

That's scary! We're starting private swim lessons this week and the instructor told me I have to be there to be her second set of eyes for the girls. Ummmm... yeah. It kind of blew me away that she thought I might leave her alone with four preschoolers, but I'm guessing it has happened before if she felt the need to bring it up.

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