I never wanted to be a parent like that where I told my children who they could or couldn't be friends with. In light of recent events, I fear this may have to happen.
A few Fridays ago, GG's friend called asking her to join her at a high school football game. It had been a while since the two girls hung out so I helped GG bundle up, shoved a few bills in her pocket, and sent her on her way. Little Dude was upset he couldn't join the girls. It had been a long day and I just wasn't up for dealing with the noise of the game along with the chilly Fall weather. I didn't realize until later in the evening that this game was the last of the season.
Little did I know that our high school football team would win that last game and make it the playoffs. The following Friday, GG's friend called once again inviting her to the game. Once again I bundled her up, shoved a few bills in her pocket, and sent her on her way.
Immediately after I turned to Little Dude and told him to bundle up as we were going to the game as well. When Little Dude and I arrived at the stadium, I asked him to pick a seat. We would try to find his sister, but that didn't mean we would sit with her and her friend. It's a struggle for me, but I am trying to give my daughter more independence.
We spotted GG and her friend a few sections over. We made our way over to let her know we were there. As I sat down, I began to look for her friend's father. I assumed he had gone to the concession stand for treats or hot chocolate. Perhaps he even went up the hill behind the bleachers where you are allowed to smoke. As the first quarter of the game came to a close, the friend's father had yet to show.
This was when I made the realization that he had dropped the two then 9 year old girls at the stadium by themselves. This was also the time I began to freak out.
We have been to our high school's football games in the past. It is a very family friendly environment and being a small community, most people know each other. Regardless, "you never know who is out there" and "it only takes a second" kept running through my head. Especially when the girls went off the play with friends behind the end zone where it's not as well lit. I know our team won the game and I did see some of the big plays, but for the most part I was keeping an eye on the girls.
I know this family has been through a lot over the past few years. This friend and her sister lost their mom to cancer. It is now just the girls and their dad. But that doesn't make it right to let them have free reign to do as they please, without the supervision of a responsible adult.
Sadly, because of other things I hear these girls are permitted to do, I don't feel that talking to their dad would make much of a difference. Right now I feel my only option is to limit where my daughter is allowed to go with her friend. My daughter, at 10, still sees the world as a perfect place. Yes, she knows there are bad people out there, but she has yet to understand how serious and how devastating it can be to run into those people.
I only want to keep her safe, but I do not like some of the decisions I have to make to ensure that.