I have wanted to write about this for a while, but I didn’t quite have the courage to do so before now for fear of offending people I know and like and care about. I’munna just own it. This totally comes from a place of judgment – which I know I should never do because I might find myself in that particular camp at some point. So I am going to put it out there and maybe you guys can give me some insight that might help me better understand drop-off parenting.
What am I talking about? I will tell you.
The First Drop Off
When my daughter was 5, she was invited to a classmate’s 7-year-old’s birthday party. I took her over only to realize it was a drop-off situation.
I had never encountered this before, and because I didn’t expect it, I was totally put on the spot. Fortunately, the mom of the little girl was the class room-mother, so I knew her fairly well. But I didn’t know her husband and we had never been to their house before.
I expressed some hesitation to the mom at the door and she welcomed me to stay but there were no other parents there. The party was all girls and they were having a great time. It was adorable.
Totally uncomfortable with it, I dropped off. My husband and son and I went out to eat and I was wigging out the whole time. Everything was fine, and my daughter had a blast, but I realized I had some thinking to do.
More and more situations like this started coming our way.
Drop Off Play Date
Several months later. I got a call from the mother of a little girl in my daughter’s class. The kids were out of school, and it happened to be the little girl’s birthday. The mother asked if Molly could come over and play for a few hours. Caught off guard, it seemed like a good idea when I first heard it, so I said yes. Then the mother proceeded to tell me that she had to leave for a chiropractor appointment during the play date but her husband was going to be there because he was taking the day off to be with his daughter. We hung up.
And then it hit me. What am I doing? I don’t know these people. I can’t take my six-year-old little girl over to a house I have never been to and leave her with a man I don’t know. That’s crazy! Embarrassed and feeling like an absolute tool, I called her back and asked if instead we could all meet somewhere for a play date. It was a REALLY good decision. The mom is sweet as can be and she and I got along great. She probably thinks I am an idiot and never expressed interest in a play date again. But it turns out the child was full of knowledge of things she was WAY to young to know about. In fact, as the school year progressed and my daughter came home and said inappropriate things – nearly every time she had learned it from this girl. In the end, I am not sorry about how that worked out.
Here’s what I don’t understand. How come these parents expected me to drop my kid off there when I don’t know them from Adam’s housecat? Is that what they do with their daughter?
Birthday Parties – the New Babysitting Co-Op
What I am learning is birthday parties are sort of treated like a babysitting swap between parents. What gets me, is people who dropped their kids off at my daughter’s birthday party this year who didn’t even know us. What if we were a bunch of pedophiles? Okay, we aren’t, but do you people care so much about 2 hours of free time that you would just drop your kids off unsupervised at a birthday party with a bunch of adults that are strangers to them?
I was talking to a friend about this yesterday and she said she thinks it’s because our kids go to a nice school and most of the people are from upper middle class families. To me, that’s like assuming everyone at church is holy. You just never know.
Not Holding Her Back - The Youngest Kid in the Class
My daughter is really young. She barely made the cut off for starting kindergarten but she was ready so I sent her. There are all these kids in her class that were held back a year so there’s a noticeable age gap between my daughter and many her classmates. In all the thinking and worrying I did about whether or not to send her on to kindergarten, no one ever warned me about situations like this coming along earlier. And another thing in the mix here – a lot of these kids are the youngest of several siblings, so the parents with older kids have achieved a more laid-back attitude about all this (and likely would think I am a nut job).
That’s part of my hesitation in even writing about this. I may get there one day, so I know it is super dangerous to be so judgmental (okay, mostly mental). But as for right now…I just don’t understand dropping off parenting.
I know I need to relax (uh, a lot), but I am not sure when that comfort-level is coming.