I couldn’t resist clicking on a recent Facebook photo of a young girl and a police officer with the caption “Is This Your Daughter” (even though I knew she wasn’t). Along with it came the story of how a group of several adults noticed a girl playing on the playground, seemingly unattended, for quite some time. They finally approached the child, who looked about 7 years old, and asked her who was there with her. After she was unable to identify a guardian, they called the police.
Shortly after the officer arrived, so did the girl’s nanny. A brief chat later, the nanny (child in hand) and officer went their separate ways. But before they did, one mom snapped this photo and shared it on social media in an effort to find the girl’s parents.
Now, the officer may have asked for the family’s contact information and planned to notify them. It is also completely possible that he didn’t, or that if he did, she gave misinformation.
Fast forward to last night, when I took my daughters to a playground that has a bootcamp class taking part outside the gated play area. At one point a plump, flushed and Lululemon-ed out mom came running to the gate shouting “Katie! When I call for you, you answer”. It took me a moment to realize that the girl (who also appeared to be about 7) was flying solo on the playground while her mom attempted to burn off a frappacino with whip.
Now, I don’t yet consider myself an overprotective parent, but I plan do to become one. I am already terrified about all that my daughters will encounter in the world as they grow. In fact, I think about it constantly. And they are only 3 and 5.
I have shared stories here before about my taking road trips with non-English speaking strangers in a foreign country, mortifying drunken nights, and even drug-induced fear of honeydew melons in my hometown grocery store, but those were all years ago. Things are even worse now. I know this because I saw Spring Breakers.
My gut instinct is that I am not overreacting to either playground incident. 7 is definitely not the age to start letting go, but what is?
(to be continued…)