Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rated PG: Parental Graciousness

Whilst the epic rudeness of our world forces my hand to report more often than not on the Gruntly behavior of others, I am delighted to be here here today in praise of the recent Graciousness of my neighbors.

They invited my daughter to their condo pool. When the dad called to arrange logistics, he made sure to clear the fact that the girls would be swimming under the watchful eye of the lifeguard, but he and his wife were to be occupied elsewhere and unable to provide additional supervision. I was fine with this; my little fish is eleven and very competent in the water. But that's not the point--the point was that these folks were considerate enough to make sure I was comfortable with the arrangement and they did not assume my permission.

Truth be told, I actually considered going to the pool with the girls. Life guards can be very picturesque.

Then I remembered that the lifeguard at this pool was a tall, suspiciously blond septuagenarian who favors Speedo swimwear. Nothing like a long, thin, shriveled...Eek. Pause for deep, cleansing breath. I stayed home with the Sunday Times crossword instead.

Upping the Grace quotient even further, after the neighbors sent my little swimmer home (across the street) they called to make sure she arrived safely. Isn't that Gracious? No wonder we're friends.

Lest you think that I am only here to report on the scarce and rare encouraging notes on the spread of Graciousness in our world, let me share another nugget from the opposite side of the tea cart....

Contrast the swimming episode with a sleepover that my little one attended two years ago. (The mathematicians among you will conclude that she was nine at the time.) She came home and said, "I LOVE sleeping at Brittany's! Her mom let us walk to the candy store by ourselves, and we were allowed to stay home alone, order Chinese food, and pay-per-view 27 Dresses while the rest of the family went to a neighbor's house for dinner. It was awesome!" Well, Graces, I was speechless. How was I enraged? Let me count the ways:

1. Parents may not assume that the level of freedom they permit is universal. Living in a city, as we do, it is not the norm to send children under the age of 13 roaming the streets alone.
2. Parents may not assume that all parents are comfortable leaving children home alone.

Full disclosure: I probably would have ok'd this if the mom had called ahead and said, "We're going to a neighbor's house for dinner. It's three doors down and the girls don't want to go. Is it alright with you if I let them stay here and watch a movie? They have my cell phone number on speed dial, and they are in shouting distance of us if anything goes wrong." But, of course, she didn't ask.
3. Parents should not allow nine year olds to open the door to strange delivery men, particularly when they are not home.
4. Parents should not presume that other parents permit nine year olds to watch PG-13 movies with suggestive sexual content and adult language.

How about you, Graces? What are your Dos and Don'ts of being in loco parentis?

No comments: