[ Note to Americans: Today was Shabbas in our town. There is no traffic, and the parks are filled with mothers and children. It is much safer than sending a child outside in America. ]
There is a children’s park about a block from our house, which I sometimes let Ricki go to on her own on Saturday, as long as it is an hour when I know that the park will be full of mothers and families. So today, when I went to lay down for a nap, bored Ricki asked me for permission to go. I eyed the bag of sand toys she had packed, and explained to her that sand toys are inappropriate for someone age 15. So she gathered her large several-girls-can-jump-together length of jump rope. It was 1:30 pm.
-Ricki, I want you back here by 2:30. Ask a mother there the time, and when she says 2:15 or 2:30, come home.
She agreed, and went off happily.
Well, 2:30 came and went (as I knew it would. In real terms I expected her back at 3:00). At 3:15 I walked over to the park to see if she was there. (If not, I would have gone to check at her best friend’s house.) I was not really worried, assuming that she would be home soon, yet decided to check out on my own anyway. [I know from experience that Ricki doesn’t go wandering around, only to places that she knows, but she can go to a friend without notifying me. I am trying to keep an eye on what she does without smothering her. And shabbas is the only day that she really has the opportunity to go to a friend on her own. (Sometimes it is hard to know where to draw the line between being a responsible parent and encouraging independence.)]
Well, I found Miss Ricki sitting on a bench, surrounded by a bunch of younger girls, one of whom I overheard saying “XXXX went to get you some juice.”
Yes, Miss Ricki was obviously sitting court, getting waited on hand and foot. Well, I broke that up FAST, telling Ricki that if she wanted juice she could jolly well walk the 5 minutes to our house and get it herself.
Guess who will be going to the park next week as chaperone…….