Having a 5 year old is uncharted territory for James and I… Ollie only turned 5 a couple of weeks ago. Just a day ago, we had our first real nail biter of a decision on our hands. A couple of kids wanted Ollie to go and play with them… but they wanted him to be allowed past our garden gate… you know… they wanted him to go out to play with them, without me!!
They knocked the door. Ollie was in his pyjamas and ready to go to bed but they asked could he please go out and play for a few minutes. I said yes, mainly because he was so excited that people had called for him! He went to bed that night and told me he hoped the girls would call for him again. The excited smile on his face was almost TOO cute.
So last night they called for him again. I told them they were welcome to come in and play in the garden with Ollie (the girls are 7… so a couple of years older). I explained to them that they had to stay in the garden if they wanted to play with Ollie, because he was only 5 and I didn’t want him in the street on his own.
They played happily for a few minutes and then the girls asked if Ollie could please be allowed past the gate. I was hesitant. I looked at James and panicked. Ollie looked at me with his gorgeous big eyes, hopeful. I asked the girls where it was that they wanted to go and one of them told me that she wanted Ollie to come and play in her garden because she had a trampoline etc.
James and I made the decision that he could go, but only if I walked him there and walked him back.
We walked down and I saw where they wanted to play with Ollie… I know the girl’s mum to see but hadn’t met her properly so I introduced myself and I explained that Ollie hadn’t been out to play on his own before and could she keep a wee eye on them for me. She said she understood my apprehension and that she would keep an eye. She told me that the mums in that street all knew each other and all kept a lookout for each others kids.
I explained to Ollie that I’d walk down and collect him in half an hour and that he should stay where he was… that he should NOT wander off anywhere else and should not go into anyone’s house because I wouldn’t be able to find him then.
It was fine! I panicked for half an hour… I panicked about all sorts of things even though we live in a lovely neighbourhood. When the half hour passed and I went to collect him, he was where I left him and he was SO happy. As we walked home, he had a bounce in his step and he said “I’m so glad I went”. Haha! He was so excited and pleased with himself.
Growing up is scary. I’m nervous about this new independence but at the same time, I know I can not wrap him up in cotton wool for forever and it’s the start of a long line of discussions on stranger danger and the like.