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It’s 3pm and the school bell has rung. You’ve been delaying a play-date with ‘A’ for weeks when you finally meet face to face with A’s mother. Something just does not sit well with you but with two sets of puppy eyes tearing into your heartstrings, what do you do? Bid Adieu!

When I was a young girl, playing with other kids wasn’t as simple as going outside and down the street. This was especially true at my grandmother’s house. She had to know ‘Who are their people?’ before we left her yard, and she meant that! And, if by our report, she felt they were not up to scratch, then we knew better than to ask further.

We always thought her questions ridiculous. How would we know whose mother or father worked and where since we were not supposed to be in grown folk’s business? And, if we were going to be climbing trees and running until dusk, what did it matter if one’s hair was ‘standing all over their head’? Her ‘Who, What, and Why in the world…?’ simply waged a battle we knew could not be won, and so we cousins settled ourselves most often playing with one another.

Today, given that parents establish, for the most part, their child’s early school socialization: play-dates, playgroups and sleepovers (Grandma would DIE!), her questions do not seem so far out of line. How well do you really know the people you trust your child with? Have you spent time in their home? Have you seen the family operate together as a unit? Are they a blended family? Divorced? Dating? Swinging??? Simply saying hello back and forth during the morning rush, even on a daily basis, does not constitute knowing a person. This is not a popularity contest.

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The society in which we now live prescribes that we know who, what, and the circumstance of the parents and guardians of our children’s friends, as well as teachers, tutors, coaches, troop leaders, even youth pastors yet, we are almost too P.C. to speak up when it concerns our children. I say it is better to be safe than devastated.

Honestly, sometimes I don’t recognize the child I pick up in the afternoon as the same one I dropped off in the morning. I ask, “What on earth went on today?” to the apparent runaway standing before me. But to the child that looks like this everyday, coming and going? I too wonder, Who are their people? Children are mean and, sometimes necessarily, parents are worse. We do judge, but rightly so. Why would I trust my child to another’s care for even fifteen minutes when it is evident that they are not invested in caring for their own? So, to these invites? “No ma’am, absolutely not.”

Do I feel bad? Sometimes. Kids are kids and I love the innocence of childhood friendships; everyone is their best friend, although this changes by lunch and back again by recess, but they’re growing emotionally and developing their own social skill-set. Who am I to intercede on such innocence? The mama, that’s who.

Comment: Have you gone against your gut instinct in dealing with the parents of your child’s friends?

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