There was no school the other day. It was a gorgeous day, and Olivia and her friend were making their way back and forth between their house and ours. It’s a three minute walk, ten minutes if you’re six and you get distracted by everything under the sun.
Just after lunch, they asked to go to the park. Alone.
We knew this was coming. We live in a neighbourhood that’s considered safe. I feel safe about our neighbourhood and the kids are encouraged to spend time playing outside.
I texted back and forth with the other child’s mother, and we decided what the heck – let’s give it a go. In all honesty, it’s not the kids, they’re capable kids. It’s the parental judgement that is inevitably going to come from a parent in the future wondering why an (almost seven year old) is playing without a parent looking upward from an iPhone every now and then.
We let them go to the park. Alone.
A three minute walk and the cross of the road. I sent them on their way with a watch, and instructions to check it, and either check in with me, or the other mom, in twenty minutes.
Eighteen minutes passed, and Violet and I took a quick walk to check on the kids.
We spotted them digging in the sand, reveling in the fact that they could do that in the first week of February.
Without seeing me, she looked at her watch. Nearing twenty minutes, I was curious if she was going to leave.
I stayed for a few minutes, reminded her of twenty minutes, and the watch, while Violet played. The mother of a toddler also at the park made small talk. ‘Your kids were really sweet, and played with my son’, she said to me.
We needed to work on the digital time telling, and twenty minute intervals – but we clearly don’t need to work on manners and kindness. I’m going to call that a win.
A few minutes later, Violet wanted to leave the playground. The kids decided to stay, with another lesson on time-telling, we were on our way, with instructions to check-in with one of us in another twenty minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, they arrived home, a bit more independent, a bit more confident, and hungry.