What do you do when your kids start wanting to spend the night with friends?
That sounds like such a simple question.
Maybe I'm WAY more freaked out about this than I need to be...but maybe not.
Here's the sitch in a nutshell.
Looking back over my school years, I can say with full confidence that I never learned anything horrible, or did anything awful while I was AT school.
So those of you with kids in public school, I can confidently say, that in retrospect, I see how during the school day, the teachers did a great job of keeping us busy (all those worksheets) and productive. I don't have one single memory of participating in awful things or even getting to talk about icky things while I was AT school. For the most part, for ME, school was a pretty safe place where nothing noticeably different happened that wasn't allowed at my own house.
I remember tons of talks about sex and other nasty things I would LOVE to protect my children from for as long as possible happening while walking home from school, while playing with neighbors on my street, and hanging out after school unsupervised.
I could repeat for you, word for word, how MANY of those talks about sex went, what I learned, etc. and that was a long, long, time ago. Those images and thoughts are STILL tattooed to my brain.
The WORST things I ever saw, watched, and did happened while spending the night with other kids.
I saw pornography...as in pornographic magazines and TV shows.
We spent hours talking about sick, perverted things.
We even DID some sick, perverted things.
ALL of those experiences, unfortunately are still with me...in my brain.
I hate that I knew at such an early age about things I hope my kids are protected from for a very long time.
And here's the deal...
I didn't grow up unloved or unsupervised. My mom cared about who I was with. So, a lot of the things that happened to me, I'm sure would shock her.
I'm also sure that my past is what makes me such a freak about the thought that my child could be down the street, in a neighbor's house doing things that could hurt them GREATLY and I'm sitting here, naively letting it go on.
Anson has spent the night with family and one family from our church, but has just now been asking to do so more.
My answer so far has been..."Daddy and I still have no idea what we think about this!"
How do you handle your kids spending the night with friends, or playing with neighbors on your street? How do you know if it's safe for them to play inside someone's house?
The fact that I know what I did and saw while away from home is something I can't change, so my experiences will make it very hard for someone to convince me that I'm over reacting.
Maybe you had wonderful sleepovers and play dates away from home, but I didn't. And, there were far too many sick situations I found myself in to just shrug them off as "strange and uncommon."
I don't want to be crazy, but I do want to be wise. Aaron and I certainly want to take our responsibility seriously.
So, for all of you with older kids, who have already gone through this, please tell us what you do.
For those of you who don't have kids, then maybe just sharing some ways you think you could have been protected will be SO HELPFUL.
Let's hear it!