Trusting The Moments When I Am Not Watching
Last Sunday, we needed something to do. My husband took the toddler out for a bike ride using a hitched carrier we have, and I took the two older kids to run errands at the outlet mall. The bribe was that they could play the “Wizards Unite” game on my phone — an augmented reality by the makers of Pokémon Go if you’re not familiar.
When we arrived, the two of them clustered together, head down in the game, taking turns every ten minutes or so. I had several errands to run in the various stores, and knew that if I took them with me, I’d have to contend with the fact that they would not be looking up at any point. This would cause them to be slow and likely bump into other people or displays. But that was the deal: a trip to the outlet mall with me, in exchange for playing the game.
The outlet mall is an outdoor mall, and we arrived just as it was opening for the day. Shoppers were beginning to appear, mostly casually strolling on the early Sunday, versus the frantic bustle that I see as the day heads into afternoon and it becomes more crowded.
My kids are 9 and 7. Outside of each cluster of shops is a seating area. I hesitated. I could tell them to sit, while I ran into a store. The shop’s windows would mean that I could easily see them if I wanted to, but still I hesitated. I finally said “You two can continue to play the game while I run inside. Stay right here and don’t talk to strangers.”
I had to talk myself into reality. Reality? Most of my stops were five to ten minutes in length. My kids were old enough to know not to talk to anyone who approached them. Someone attempting to forcibly take them would do so in front of other casual shoppers, and my kids would not go quietly. They were going to be fine sitting there, and I had to trust that to be true.
Reality was also wondering if someone could see my kids and take it upon themselves that my children were “unattended” and call the police. It’s something I read over than over… rather than teaching children to be independent and be comfortable on their own, people are all too quick to contact law enforcement on grounds that children aren’t being supervised. I wonder when I will ever be able to let…