It happened so fast. I was caught a bit off guard. Our boy was asked if he wanted to come over for a playdate and he excitedly said he’d love that. The mama asked me if we were free tomorrow, and then said: see you then! The thing is, playdates at this age are drop-offs here. Just like birthday parties, playdates from about age 2-3 are for the kids and not their parents.
Until tomorrow, I will have been each time with my child to the little friend’s home, and enjoyed a chat with the mother, while vaguely helping a kid tie a shoelace, or tell mine to share more Legos. While our conversations were always interrupted, I cherished the time to get to know another mother. And, I was also there to see what the kids played with.
Tonight, my husband and I found ourselves wrestling with this new “kids only” reality. While we’re happy at the prospect of a new friend for our son, we don’t love the fact we know absolutely nothing about the family or home environment we’re sending our kid to. Also, selfishly, in which context then, will I ever get to know the mother?
Back to the main issue. I’ve read all the polarizing articles about how great it is that French mothers have time to get things done during kids’ parties because their kids are awesome and independent, and conversely how US mothers supposedly love to helicopter parent their big babies. I can put myself in the shoes of each culture looking in on the other in disdain. But, it’s all so different when it’s your own son. So different.
I don’t fear domestic violence, bullying or not trusting my kid to speak up for himself. What I fear most is over-exposure given his young age (and older siblings in the house). I am aware that it’s a very subjective classification as to what you’d consider over-exposure. But that’s probably the point. You might or might not view it as over-exposure depending on your family values. We’re extremely careful about exposure to things like pornography, guns and gore and dark, witchcraft type things. Our four year old is growing up fast and we won’t be able to protect him from everything, but gosh, we’d love to help interpret what he sees instead of throwing him in at the deep-end.
In the past few months, our little boy has gone from pat-a-cakes, duplos and sand castles with mama not far away… to finding himself alone, surrounded by teens playing violent video games or reading stories about an ogre biting a boy’s head off. We’ve heard about all the little stories after the fact and have found ourselves caught off guard and reactionary instead of able to prepare him for situations he might find himself in.
I think I will still drop him off at his friend’s house tomorrow, because the mother seems really kind. And it’s our son’s very first chance to have fun with a friend his age, which is like a dream come true. Also, because solo is kinda just how it’s done here. But it isn’t without a bit of anguish and lots of prayer that we entrust one of our most precious possessions into new hands and a world with plenty of unknowns.
This post was part of the #Write31Days challenge, on the topic: Our family in global transition.
You can read the other posts written this month, by clicking on the links below!
1 – French Preschool
2 – Making friends in a new land
3 – ‘Yes’ people in a ‘No’ culture
4 – How language affects transition
5 – Not all French people are foodies
6 – The apple juice party
7 – I’m the third-born
8 – French-Mex ridiculous
9 – Busted by the Swiss police
10 – Educational field trip
11 – Visitors: the good and the bad
12 – Christmas in October
13 – A good place to get sick
14 – C’est les vacances!
15 – Playdate anguish
16 – The five year plan
17 – The Q&A edition!
18 – Holidays are for world-schooling
19 – The Granny I want to be.