About a year and a half after we moved in, Jenna was out in front playing with Wesley. Wes introduced her to Blake, who lived around the corner. Blake and Jenna decided to be friends and ditched Wesley who had decided to climb on the roof next door. Both Blake and Jenna were mortified by his decision.
The next day Blake came over to play with Jenna. It just happened to be her birthday and she had turned seven. I had a party planned with many of her friends from the old neighborhood. Jenna asked if Blake could go with us. I told them both that we would need permission from Blake’s parents – or parent rather. Like many of the children over here, Blake came from a broken home.
Blake left the house and made his way back in what felt like only two minutes. He said it was all right for me to take him to another city. I didn’t feel right about it unless I talked with an adult first. And so I drove him home and talked with his dad.
His dad, who doesn’t know me, who had never even met Jenna before, said that Blake was a good kid and it would be all right if I were to take him to Kearns. Are you kidding me? Yes. Blake was a very good kid. Out of all of Jenna’s West Valley friends, I think I have actually liked Blake the most. But just because he was a good kid didn’t make me a reliable person. I am. But he doesn’t know that.
So I took Blake to Kearns with us – still in awe that he’d been allowed to go with a virtual stranger. There is no way in the world I would be allowing Jenna to get in the car of the parent of a friend that she just met and I don’t know. Blake was not only allowed to go to the party, but his sister had gone out and purchased a Barbie for him to give to Jenna.
Then there was Sadie. Cute little Sadie. She showed up at our doorstep one day. Jenna had met her through some of the other neighborhood kids – and actually spends more time with Sadie than anyone. She happened to be here as we were getting ready to go to Anna’s 4th birthday party. Jenna asked if Sadie could go with us. So I put Sadie in the car and drove her to her house to get permission. Unlike Blake’s father, who spoke English, Sadie’s father doesn’t speak any English, and so I had to take her word (and his nod) for it that he has given permission.
We’ve taken Sadie on bus rides to Kearns a couple of times. And last night she had her first sleep over at our house. Why would a parent allow their child to sleep over at someone’s house they haven’t met? Again, I am not comfortable with the idea of Jenna sleeping over night with strangers – though I suppose that slumber parties could be in the future and maybe I won’t know the parents – or even the children – as her classmates also live in another city.
And then there’s Desiree across the street. She has two children, ages 8 and 6. I really like the 8 year old. She has been taught values and respect. I think she has been the most respectful of any of Jenna’s West Valley friends, and would like to see Jenna learn that same respect – except for Desiree seems to be overly cautious about letting her children go anywhere – which I fully understand. She doesn’t know us either.
Jenna and I were walking somewhere when she said “Hi” to us. I asked Jenna if she wanted to invite Alisha to walk with us in which Jenna replied, “Her mom won’t even let her walk to the corner” which made me laugh. But I’ve learned that she wasn’t joking. Alisha and her brother have to be within eyesight at all times.
I wonder if something tragic happened either in Desiree’s life or the lives of her two young children. I would highly suspect that both have different fathers – and maybe there’s a custody battle going on and perhaps one or the other has been taken and that’s why Desiree doesn’t trust anyone. But I actually understand her overprotectiveness more than the allowing your child to ride in the car with someone you don’t even know.
I wish I were more casual and trusting of people. I wish we lived in a world in which we wouldn’t question the motives of the adult but be happy to let our child go – knowing that he or she will have fun and nothing bad will happen and that suspicions would be non-existent. But there is suspicion and bad intentions and caution. And labeling on my part – as I’ve referred to them as West Valley friends, and school friends instead of just friends. But then there’s a degree of friendship as well.
Tomorrow I will be going to Kearns to watch my youngest nephew. I will be taking Jenna with me. Her other two cousins have play dates set up, and I am hoping to have one for her as well. So far it is looking good that she will be spending time with her kindergarten buddy. I hope so. It will be good for her to play with somebody her age on her same level.