Remember when you used to run around outside and come home when it was dusk? Remember when you were in elementary school and you used to walk? Sure, at age almost-four and one, the kids aren’t quite there yet – but they’re getting there.
Olivia is at the age where if you’re walking down the sidewalk with your parents or if you are around her age (or upwards of ten for that matter) she’s on a mission to be your friend. She will wave you down, tell you to come over and play on the trampoline and introduce you to her sister. She’s outgoing and friendly – and is starting to assert that independence that four year olds get.
With this new outgoing kid comes new friends. Luckily, we live in a neighborhood that is chock full of kids. With three playgrounds and young families as far as the eye can see, there are kids everywhere. Olivia has become particularly fond of hanging out with a new girl that she met down the street who is close to her age. So, I let her play close to their house, on the porch area, sidewalk and on the sidewalk between and check on her every so often as they play between her house and our house (about six houses down). Keep in mind we live in the Suburbs, six houses? That’s pretty close.
She knows the boundaries, knows the rules and is checked on consistently. Have parents become too ‘hovery’?
I check on her and when her friend goes inside of the house she knows it’s time to come home and I can usually hear her houses away as she’s wailing because
her friend went inside her life was over. Other than that, she comes home when she’s done playing while I do the laundry, finish working or play with her little sister who’s not allowed to come.
Speaking with a close friend of mine, she was surprised that I let Olivia play outside, in the front as she doesn’t even like to let the kids play in the fully enclosed back yard if she’s inside folding laundry. I teasingly called her a crazy helicopter mom, because fenced backyard = sanity time inside but it got me thinking.
When are kids old enough to play outside alone? Go to the park with their friends? What’s your take?