playmate dilemma

April 26, 2010

this weekend has been good, and full. full of neighborhood kids in our home; joining us for meals, for games, for park outings, for church, for just about anything.

and i love this … and it’s hard.

we are the home the kids come to; that our daughter is excited to invite neighbors within. and i thank GOD for that. my husband and i love the opportunity to love on these precious kids; to fold them in to the rhythm of our life … a family with a mama and a dad, that eats together, plays together, prays together, talks together, learns together.  we had maddie’s neighbor friends over for dinner the past 5 nights!

and i hate to detract from the beauty and the blessing, but there is the flip side that i grapple with: how close do i hold my girl to protect, to shelter? is it wise to allow her much playtime out front (outside of our direct supervision) with the neighbor friends? precious kids who are growing up in homes rife with drama, worldliness, pop culture, etc.  they speak of things about which she has no clue (thank GOD for her innocence).

and yet, they also play … PLAY! i remember hours upon hours of simple, easy play in my neighborhood growing up. and these kids have a blast, pulling each other in a wagon, riding bikes ride in our front driveway area, swinging on a tree swing, etc. and i want that for her; that free play time of laughter and sweating and playing hard.

could i, would i hand pick her playmates, to protect her from any junk that may come up in conversation?! most of the time, i do. we play with our dear friends, whose children we know and love.

or do i allow the continuation of what is happening: she comes to me to debrief, to process, to ask questions after time spent out front… and we talk. and explain. and explore.

so would i prefer that most of the time spent w/these neighbor girls be spent in our home, under our watchful eye? perhaps yes. but maybe not? because i also want my girl to freely play and talk and engage outside of mama’s constant oversight. and on these growing-longer evenings, it is so sweet to have extended playtime outdoors.

often, as i am doing as i write this, i sit at my computer which has a window open to the front … so i can intervene if needed. and there has been need, such as when i observed one girl (11 yrs old) laughing and sharing her plan to pee in the bush out front! (seriously) maddie just watched the girl, horrified. and i dashed outside, asking, intervening … being the mom who is always around, always nearby. maddie loves having her mama nearby; catches my eye when she passes my window here and smiles.

last night, after 2 of the girls joined us for dinner, i opened the summer yard games and the girls had a blast playing bocce ball in our backyard. it was wonderful … they were right close to us, playing safely.

i know that this is a dilemma that is faced at so many points on this parenting journey; how close we hold and protect; and when we slowly release, under what conditions and with whom?

i am so heartened to remember that our Heavenly Father is sovereign and i need not stress or worry; i need to simply seek His direction in order to wisely parent as best i can … covered in His grace.

last night, in our back yard!

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