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Okay, so I've come back from picking up my daughter at school
and have been given ''the look'' yet again. My daughter attends an
Oakland public school in the hills. We live in a middle class
Oakland neighborhood. My daughter plays with the neighborhood
kids. Not the come in the house and play or let's arrange a play
date kind of play. But let's build a fort at Katy's house - Hey,
Jack is good at building forts, let's go get him and his sister
The kids, age 6 - 10, cross the street, play at each other's
house, in different yards, ride bikes around the block together
(no crossing streets with the bike). It should be said here that
the 6 year olds don't have the same freedom as the 10 year olds.
There is a group of 9 kids in total from 6 families. Kids are
from several different ethnic backgrounds, religions and family
make-ups. The kids ''check in'' with their parent/guardian if they
are leaving their own block and come in for dinner or call their
parents if they are eating at the neighbor's house. All the
parents have the phone numbers of the other parents and thereís
an agreement that you can disciple with words when needed with
any of the kids.
When I talk about this with the families at my daughter's
school, they first ask where we live, then ask if we're afraid
for our daughter's safety when she's outside playing. Sometimes
there's a mention of not being able to do the same thing in the
hills because there are no sidewalks, or the kids live too far
apart - then they ask why we don't ''do play dates?''
So, how do parents feel about play dates vs neighborhood kids
playing together? Are you fearful? Do your kids ride their bikes
with other kids? Do your kids have the freedom to go to other
kidís houses if they tell you or call you? Am I just still
living in the 70s thinking life is good and forts, climbing
trees, chalk drawn hopscotch and blow up pools are fun and
Skinned Knees are Good Things
Wow - your situation sounds AWESOME! I think it is great for
your child to have that type of freedom and to make friends in
the neighborhood. Yes, you have to be mindful of safety, but if
we teach our children to always be afraid - isn't that also
dangerous? That said, you might consider a day each week where
you host, or attend, a ''planned'' playdate so your child can get
to know classmates. I live in a really safe neighborhood, but
without any children my son's age. I try and host playdates at
my house because it is conducive to playing outside, building
forts, etc., but I long for a situation where kids run around to
eachother's houses. As long as you feel confident with the other
children, and their parents, I say enjoy it! Also, check out
''The Dangerous Book for Boys'' (geared for boys, but fine for
girls) which talks about - and details - all kinds of stuff our
generation did as kids that kids don't do anymore. Good luck!
GOOD FOR YOUR KIDS! I am so excited to hear that normal, unscheduled, non-
playdate playing is going on in your neighborhood. Can I move there?
Why people think there are more child predators today than there were in the 70s
when we were growing up (or at least some of us were growing up) is a mystery. It's
flat out not true. The problem is everyone THINKS there are more crimes against
children because of the immediacy of modern-day media. There were crimes before,
sure, but we didn't hear about them because they weren't in our neighborhood. Now
the world is our neighborhood and something that happens in Rockridge seems as
close to us as something that happened in Hanover, N.H.
We are an ultra-cautious society -- sometimes to the extent that it isn't actually
good for our children. From your note it sounds like all the kids in your
neighborhood are responsible and know who to contact, and do contact them, when
the need arises. You are fostering great trust and healthy indepence in your
So I'm not sure what the problem here is, quite frankly. The parents at your school
are making you feel like *&^% because your kids have a normal, stable play life?
should just shake your head and say, ''What a shame you guys have to rely on
It sounds like you have a fantastic situation in your
neighborhood and the parents you are talking to are jealous
and/or having an unconsciously racist/classist response. Relax
and enjoy what you've got!
I am sooooo much in favor of playing with neighborhood kids
over the chauffeured parent-managed playdate, I don't even know
where to begin. YES, it's safe -- safe enough!! And it would be
even safer if more people let their kids play outside so that
there would be a big pack of kids of all ages outdoors. The
perspective that our kids must be indoors and under our eyes at
all times in order to be ''safe'' seems to me to be soooooo
wrong. It isn't any more dangerous in 2007 than in was in 1967
for kids to be outdoors in their neighborhoods - it's just that
we've become totally paranoid.
Your situation sounds ideal. I would not trade your daughter's community of friends
playdates and a home on a hilly street with no sidewalks for anything. The only
for a playdate for your daughter is if she has a special friend at school that she
to see outside of school. Otherwise, just enjoy your situation and don't let
stress get to you.
--also lucky to live in a friendly community
Oh how I envy your situation! Being from Europe I don't get the playdate thing at
and living in the area I do we practically never see kids on the street, let alone
able to pop over to a neighborhood friend's house to play. It's enough to make me
want to leave the bay area; I had no idea real neighborhood play was going on right
there in Oakland! Also sounds like racism and classism are sadly alive and well in
the bay area and that's part of what you're dealing with at the school.
I only see a point in playdates with kids from school if they've built a real
you want to build on, and you connect with the family. Otherwise, they spend
enough time together already, how wonderful that they are living amongst and
playing with such a diverse group of children and you can save on the scheduling/
driving! I say enjoy what you have, and let your children be children.
missing the 70's
I'm not totally sure what advice you're looking for. I don't know
why your daughter can't do both: play with kids on her street AND
have the occasional playdate. My daughter plays with friends on
our street all the time, but they aren't necessarily her best
friends. She can't help that some kids she really enjoys live too
far away to play with easily.
Also you talk about your neighborhood vs. the hills...is that the
crux of this? I lived in Montclair for a long time and it was all
playdates because of the reasons you cite: unsafe hills and
curves, no sidewalks, and kids living too far from each other to
get to each other's houses safely. Essentially, your daughter is
in school with many kids that can't just play on the street, so
they have to do playdates to see each other. I can see where
she'd feel left out, especially if she has good friends that
don't live in her neighborhood. Again, letting her have playdates
once in awhile won't hurt anything.
I will say that the playdate thing can get out of control. I have
talked to some moms and we have agreed to get our kids to stop
talking about and planning playdates constantly at school. It
becomes a snubbing system of sorts, and some kids lord their
frequent playdates over the other kids.
Why do Skinned Knees Have to Happen Only at Home?
Play dates are an adaptation born out of necessity to create the
semblance of what you have at home. If you feel that your kids
are safe, hold on to your neighborhood community.
I don't think I'll be the only respondent who is totally jealous
of your neighborhood! We have a lot of kids on our street, too.
However, everyone seems to be in after-school care so we don't
get a lot of playing around on the street after school. It's a
bummer. I think your situation is grand and wish we had that here.
I think to most people your neighborhood sounds great. You are
really lucky. When other people say their neighborhood doesn't
work like that, they are telling the truth, not just being
snobby. For various reasons (hills, no sidewalk, no kid
neighbors, scary neighbors, busy street, isolated street) lots of
people in all demographics don't have the same situation. Maybe
the other mothers are just wondering if you would be willing to
''do'' a playdate with their child who doesn't live right around
you. If your daughter wants to, that could be fun too.anon
You are very fortunate. That is a dream of mine to live on a
street with families such as yours! I'm wondering if most
people only do playdates because they don't have such a
wonderful situation as yours. At least, that is true for me. I
would love for my kids to have that experience. But every one
is different and have different trust levels, values and
lifestyles. I would say to trust yourself. You know the
neighborhood, the families, and your kids better than anyone.
Sounds like you know them well enough to trust them and feel
that they are safe. Enjoy and appreciate what you have. One
thing to say is if there is a specific kid from school that
wants to play with yours, maybe be open to scheduling playdates
periodically with them.
Wishing I lived on your block!
All I can say is that your kids are very, very lucky!
One of the saddest things to me is that I never hear the sound of
children playing in my, not fancy, but ''safe'' neighborhood. I
think back on my childhood of standing outside my friends houses
and calling their names, building forts, making up games, and
resourcefully using what was at hand, and I wonder what's going
to become of all these kids who have no idea what to do with
themselves if they're not in some structured ''worthwhile''
activity or being entertained.
Our street in the Oakland foothills (nice neighborhood but not
far from ''problem areas''). A big group of kids from multiple
houses all hang out together and do similar things - run
around, basketball, ride bikes, go in and out of neighboring
houses, play ball, hanging out in the neighborhood. Early on
some of the kids were also quite young including younger
siblings at ages 3, 4, 5. This frightened me as they were
clearly too young to be ''unsupervised'' and being around a
slightly older sibling wasn't enough. My child is now 6 and is
not permitted to hang out with this group unless I'm watching.
Call me paranoid, but a young child is still vulnerable and I'm
not going to take that chance in an ''urban'' environment. Maybe
when my child is closer to 10, I will be okay with more freedom
as long as there were understood boundaries. We do have
arranged playdates with neighborhood kids, but mainly see
friends from school.
I think your neighborhood play situation sounds GREAT. We have
this going on in my neighborhood and it's one of the many things
I love about where we currently live (my kid is too young to
participate yet). Unfortunately, the schools in my area are
awful, so we will need to find a new home before kid #1 reaches
school age. One of my concerns is finding a new neighborhood
with a similar vibe. I hate it when you only catch glimpses of
the neighbors as they're going from car to house. As for formal
playdates with kids outside the neighborhood, I would personally
want to have some every now & then to foster relationships for
both me and my kid with the other families at the school.
We live in the El Cerrito flats. Kids in our neighborhood play
together like yours. It is so fun to see that the statistics
about too much screen time don't apply to these kids. I'm not
anti-playdate, but running around with neighborhood kids is just
easier for me, and the dynamic seems more natural.
I think it's great that your kids are able to have unstructured play time with
kids in their neighborhood. I may be living in a 70s dream world as well, but I
to feel sorry for my peers who had to go to this class and that practice all the
Now it seems to be the norm for kids to either be in a structured environment or
have their parents around all the time. I would have hated it myself.
My son is still too young for the world of play dates, but I have to say, the term
itself makes me cringe. Maybe you could compromise and set up a couple of (ugh)
play dates with his friends at school, but I think your kids are lucky to be able
enjoy neighborhood play.
I'm with you. Skinned knees have got to make a come back.
I've always thought we were the mellow parents, but we just got
back from a summer trip to Vermont with some friends and thier
kids and we were soooo much more uptight then they were. Both
my friends had huge barns and lived on multiple acres. The kids
swung from the rafters, had tree forts, climbed trees that were
like 40 feet high and they had the time of thier lives. They
played flashlight tag, even my 2 year old till about 10 at
night. They ran and played so hard. We do not do that here and
when we got back from our trip, we tried to stay mellow about
the 2yo on the playground and playing in the park (he's very
athletic and agile) and we got some real nasty looks. I just
ignored them, for god's sake when they fall on the playground
now, it's got that squishy ground, how hurt can they get. He
even fell from the tree house at our friends house, it was about
5 feet high. He cried a bit and about 2 minutes later, he
climbed up it again. I really think we are wayyyyyy
overprotective here in the bay area. I don't think it's the
time, I think it's that place. We in the bay area need to chill
out, I think we are a bit too obsessed with our children, I
think we think they are a bit ''too special''. I grew up in a
much tougher area than most areas in the bay area (I found a gun
in the creek behind my house and I was playing near a dumpster
once that had a body in it that the mob just wacked, really, I'm
not BSing you, I've lost a lot of my early childhood friends to
drug overdoses) and we were just fine. We need to get over
ourselves. We live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids that all
got to the same school and I'm really trying to create that
culture as well, ''have your kid come over here and sometimes
I'll send my kid over there'', playing on the sidewalk, ect. I
think we've got a little kooky and playing in the hood is what
childhood is all about
My kids play with neighbor kids in much the same way you
describe -- the 6yo with much more independence than the 3yo, of
course, and with a little less freedom than you describe which
is probably due to the average age on our block being a little
lower. And we feel very fortunate to live in a neighborhood
where this is possible! So clearly I am in favor of free-form
can-you-come-out-and-play type neighborhood ''playdates''. And
no, I don't worry overmuch about safety.
But we also arrange somewhat more formal playdates from time to
time, with the kids' schoolmates who live a little farther away,
or who have a different childcare schedule, or for whatever
other reason are friends with our kids but whom we don't just
happen to encounter out and about in the same way we do the
other kids who live on the same block we do.
So it's not as if I have an anti-playdate philosophy; in fact, I
wish it were easier than it is to arrange after-school playdates
with my son's classmates. On the other hand, the kids
participating in these playdates are going to do the same sorts
of things our neighborhood kids do together -- including riding
bikes and drawing with sidewalk chalk. So perhaps there is some
other distinction being made in your area that I'm not quite
It's all good
What you describe sounds really wonderful to me. I guess I
probably would want to know who the adults were in the
neighborhood homes, just to make sure no one seemed
particularly creepy, and I'd want to make sure that my kids
knew to tell me if anyone seemed strange. I also live in
Oakland and find that occasionally people who don't live in
Oakland, or who live in the hills, either make assumptions
about the flat lands or don't have a clue about what it's like
to live anywhere that's not just like where they live. Many
people have never lived in a racially AND economically diverse
neighborhood and they never will. My deep down opinion is that
there's also unspoken racism. I guess that in theory you are
exposing your children to the risk that perhaps there's a
molestor living in one of these homes, but it's a well know
statistic that most children who are molested are molested by
someone close to them. Then there's the also really remote
risk of abductions when they're out and about. You just have
to evaluate your particular situation, neighbors,
responsibility levels of the kids, etc. But I would trust your
gut feelings, and ignore what the school parents are saying.
wow! i wish i had your situation. we have one other family here
(grand lake) that we have a similar vibe with, but since
currently mine are 6 and 2 and theirs are 4 and 1, there is more
parent supervision. i sincerely hope we can be like that in 4-5
there is a ''worry'' mentality these days, enhanced by shows like
COPS, america's most wanted, etc. in my opinion this is designed
to convince the american people to accept the overturning of the
bill of rights, purportedly in exchange for feeling safer. so i
see parents hover and try to prevent any ''danger,'' raising kids
who are afraid to take any risks. and i see it happen more in
more affluent areas (montclair, piedmont), maybe also due to
former corporate executive type, now stay at home mamas needing
something to micromanage and stress about.
--wish i had your ''village''--
I didn't see the original post but wanted to chime in about the
joys of living in flatland neighborhoods with lots of kids. We
live in El Cerrito and on our block there are at least 9 school
age kids ranging from kindergarten to middle school. We chose the
neighborhood school but many families do not. So far, that hasn't
stopped all the kids from going in and out of each others' houses
(and yards) with a great deal of freedom. It's a flat street
where the houses are very close to each other.
It's not uncommon to have 5 kids in my home or back yard before
and after dinner. My youngest is 6 and she is allowed to go in
and out of 3 other homes on the block. My 10-year-old is allowed
to walk home from school with a friend.
All of our closest neighbors have my home number and can call any
time if I need to know something. If we are going out to dinner
and an extra kid wants to go along, we call the family and ask if
I also do more traditional playdates (when my kids ask for them)
with friends at school but they do very few structured after
school activities because there is so much to do on our block.
I grew up in Los Angeles County and remember some of the horrific
crimes (Hillside Strangler, Manson family murders) but,
fortunately, my parents never allowed paranoia to keep me and my
siblings from walking 4 blocks to the grocery store. I feel
fortunate that my children are having a similar childhood experience.
--let kids be kids
I think your neighborhood & situation sound fabulous. But please
do consider inviting your children's classmates over as well.
Some of us aren't lucky enough to live in safe, flat
neighborhoods with lots of kids like yours. Our kids really like
& need to play with other kids, too -- & it's sometimes awfully
hard to arrange opportunities for them to do so.
Our neighbor's 1st-grade son (an only child) is the same age as
one of our children. On different occasions, they have sent him
over to our house to play: in the afternoon w/o having fed him
lunch beforehand, to stay ~4 hours through dinner time w/o
inquiring about him or asking him to come home to eat, right
before or during our dinner time (5:30-6:00-ish), while seeing us
arrive home (very tired) after being out all day w/our kids
(right before dinner time), etc. Furthermore, we usually end up
being the ones to send him home, rather than someone in his
household asking for him to come home.
One afternoon while preparing dinner, after telling our son it
would be inappropriate for him to visit his classmate at that
time w/o being invited, guess who comes over to our house?
Saying ''no'' to our neighbor's child isn't always easy, but not
only can his visits put us in an awkward spot at times, but we've
also been put in a contradictory position with our children and
what we try to teach them.
Can anyone suggest a tactful way for us to handle this with our
neighbor and their son. Of course, we have nothing against play
dates or visits from their son. We're just looking for help with
letting them know what we consider appropriate and acceptable in
these situations. Thanks for any help.
I used to have my child tell the other child (or I would do it)
that they can't play today, right now, or on a school day- which
ever applies.You could put a time limit on it- can only play for
30 minutes on a school night.
Think about it from your child's point of view. How lovely for him to have a playmate
nearby, and to have a comfortable, casual arrangement with a friend he really likes. Do
you feel secure in letting your son play at their house, too? If so, this could be a great
setup -- when you're tired, he goes to their house to play. My child had a group of
three children his age on our street (we called them his posse), and it was good for all
3 of them to be able to go into all 3 houses. He has missed them terribly since we've
moved. Maybe invite the boy's parents over for coffee to see if you like them? Most
kids rely on our setting up playdates; those who can arrange their own playdates are
Missing the Posse
We have a similar situation. Next door neighbors have a child
similar in age to our kids. Both her parents work. When she sees
us come home, she knocks on the door within 5 minutes and stays
until we tell her to leave. However, it hasn't been a problem for
us. Half the time when she comes, we turn her away because my
kids have other things they need to do. When we're getting ready
for dinner, I send her home. She's a sweet girl and we really
don't mind having her around, but I also don't hesitate for a
second to tell her she needs to leave or she can't come over.
It's slightly annoyed me that her parents don't reciprocate by
hosting our kids, but recently I think their Dad has felt guilty
and they are having my kids over more often. Bottom line, if you
aren't comfortable, say no. You'll be setting a good example for
your kids AND not telling them one thing and then letting your
neighbor do another. Good luck.
''Ok Jack, you need to go home now.'' If by chance one day you feel like feeding
him with your family, like if he comes over before lunch and the kids are still
having a lot of fun, have him go home and ask or call his mom to see if it's OK.
This will show him and perhaps his parents what the difference is. If he turns
up one day and you just don't want him to come over just say, ''Sorry Jack,
Jimmy can't have a friend over right now.''
Not that hard!
My Mother had this problem with a neighbor kid some 30+ years or
so and I thought she handled it quite well. When the girl came
over our house for a visit that extended itself into dinner time
she sent the visitor back home with a ''it's dinner time here
and, you are welcome to come back tomorrow for play'' or, a ''it's
time to go home, we are going to have dinner, you are welcome to
come over tomorrow'' or some other variation on that theme.
I also think that a honesty with the neighbors would be
appropriate. Mention that while you love to have their boy over,
you don't allow visitors during your family dinner hour which
iss x time to x time. And, don't feel guilty about sending him
home by saying your child cannot play right now because it's too
close to dinner, or by saying he can only play for a short time
Perhaps, these parents have different schedules for dinner/lunch
and are not aware that they are inconveniencing you.
I think it's appropriate to also mention what time your lunch
hour and dinner hours are and that you don't have visitors
during that time, while you would love visits from the child at
You might also think that this child doesn't get great parenting
and, his food needs are not being met at home. And, if he's
hungry it's not his fault that his caregiver is not feeding him
or looking out for his needs...I had this problem once and just
ended up always adding an extra place at our table for my
daughter's friend whom I'm sure wasn't getting 3 square meals a
day. I felt sorry that this child wasn't getting
attention/nutrition that she needed and, I really didn't feel
put out by it.
At our house, this is how we handle it. If neighbor kids want
to come over and play in our house or in our back yard, they
need to ask first (at the door or at the gate). We have learned
that if we are not up for a visit (homework, too tired, about to
eat a family meal, about to go out, have other frinds over and
don't ant more) then we tell them it is not a good time right
now. The neighbors have learned to accept that (even if they do
whine). We just tell them no and send them home. If they are
over at our house and we feel it is time for them to leave (time
for us to have jsut family time), we will send them home. We
will watch young ones to make sure they get back to their own
Our kids would sometimes love to go over to another neighbors
house, but if those neighbors have other company or family over
then we tell them they can't. We don't even let them invite
themselves over to another neighbors house, anyway. We think it
is best to invite kids to our house, play in the neutral areas
like front yards or side yards (and maybe someone else will come
out - or you can invite them), or ask them to go to the
playground with us. Just say no and send them back.
talk to his parents! tell them exactly what you wrote down
below... what is obvious to you is not obvious to every parent,
everywhere--even right next door to you.
i've learned that all different people have so many different
expectations, you just have to be upfront with stuff like
this--maybe they have totally different schedule, etc...
I have really weird things about space and people just droping in
from space (I work really weird hours, so dropping in on my
household-- I could be eating dinner at 3AM)...
talk to your meighbors
i'm sorry about your situation, but why did you feel compelled
to highlight that the neighbor child is an only child. it didn't
seem pertinent frankly, and ''asides'' like that are unnecessary
and perpetuate stereotypes.
You have to take control of this situation, but tact may not be
the tool to use. I had a very similar situation when my kids
were younger. Honestly, I spent months training that child in
what was appropriate. It was tiring, but I had to do it. The
key, I think, is that you are training him, not his parents.
When you teach children, you are very straightforward. You
say, ''Junior can't play tonight, it is almost time for dinner.''
You say this every night for three weeks, then the child learns
not to come over. In my case, I walked her home, since she
didn't want to leave. Once evening she stood outside our window
looking in at us eating. Twice I opened the door to tell her the
kids could not play the rest of the night, and she should go
home. Eventually, I closed the curtain on her. It seems
ridiculous, but she was having a hard time getting that we meant
it. She eventually became a well-behaved and appropriately-timed
guest at our home. I didn't try to bring this up with her
parents, since they clearly lacked the understanding of what was
appropriate in the first place, or their child would have known
it. Put the energy into training your neighbor child, and you
I feel really sorry for the other kid. It sounds like there's
very little structure in his home, and he must feel bad being
turned away when his parents throw him out the door, unfed, to
Here's what I'd do: ''Timmy, We have certain rules in our home,
one of them is that you must call before you come over. I'm going
to give your mom our telephone number and she can help you call
us to see if it's a good time for you to come and play.''
You give little timmy your number, and you also go to his house
and give his parents your number: ''Hi Timmy's mom! We really like
having timmy over, but it's disruptive when it's
dinner/lunch/nap/family time. I'd really appreciate it if you
could have HIM CALL US (caps mean; you are teaching the child
some manners and responsibility by having him make the calls) to
see if it's a good time for visiting.''
Also, I understand being frustrated when he comes over hungry,
but come on... he's what, 7 or 8 years old??? Can't you just give
him a peanut butter sandwich or something? Really it's not his
fault that his family doesn't feed him when they should; you
could at least not begrudge him food. I understand your
frustration is really w/ the parents,and unless you're going to
call them on this, just give him a bite to eat and forget about
it. Maybe his family is abusive, or mean, or stupid, or any
number of things. they might just be clueless. Anyway it goes,
feeding him a snack isn't going to break your bank.
Lastly, it doesn't sound like the kid is being cared for very
attentively. In some ways, it really does take a village... your
kindness to this child will help him grow up to be a better
person. And teaching him respect for your boundaries, i.e. by
calling before coming over, is one way to do that. It is also
teaching kindness by feeding the poor little guy and not making a
big deal of it.
My 5.5 year old daughter has a neighborhood friend who waits
outside our house nearly every day, waiting for my daughter to
come home (they go to different schools, and my daughter is
also in aftercare). Actually, this girl (age 6) and her
younger brother (age 3 or 4) are often left unsupervised
outside for hours at a time, and if they aren't at our house
they are otherwise wandering up and down the street). Many
days my daughter plays with them (if it is just the girl, my d
can invite her in; if it is the girl and her brother or other
kids, they must play outside, near our house). We almost
always have to ask them to leave for us to eat dinner and/or to
otherwise get on with the rest of our afternoon or evening.
Things have gotten awkward when my daughter has had other, more
structured play dates with other kids from school or other
places. My daughter often does not want to play with this girl
when her other friends are over, (and from my experience 3-way
play dates tend to be fraught with exclusion, tears etc, so I
prefer her to just have one friend over at a time as well). I
feel bad sending the girl home as if she were a 2nd tier
friend, but the fact is she is nearly ALWAYS waiting, so there
is nothing else to do but explicitly ask her to go home. Any
suggestions for minimizing hurt feelings or otherwise dealing
with this girl?
Need guidance on friend boundaries
I have a 5 year old and understand the problem of 3-way play dates. I would try to
schedule playdates with the neighbor girl's parent(s), then she might slowly get
used to the idea that she can come over when it is planned in advance and that
people are not available when they have a guest over. (Then be sure not to have
drop-ins when during the neighbor girl's
playdates.) I think it shouldn't be on you to have to turn her down all the time,
but I wouldn't feel bad about it if they play together fairly often.
Drop-ins should call ahead
Your primary concern should not be excluding this little girl, as difficult as
that is, it should be why her parents are letting her roam around the neighborhood
unsupervised at age 6. I work for Alameda County Social Services and can tell you
that this is a reportable situation, especially since it is chronic. Please call
the hotline at 510.259.1800. A very experienced worker will talk with you and
determine if the family needs an investigation.
If so, most likely the social worker would help the parents get the resources they
need, like child care, to properly to care of their children. One of these
children could get hurt or victimized, please take it seriously and call. thanks
My comment is not specifically about your daughter and this neighborhood girl. The
girl sounds terribly lonely; at the same time, you're not responsible for being
her daily caregiver.
There is a larger problem here, which is why are a 6-year-old and a 3- or 4- year
old left unsupervised for hours at a time and often wandering up and down the
street? This has got to be illegal on some level? It seems like you could best
help her and her sibling by contacting Child Protective Services about this
This is not an extreme measure -- they can investigate the situation, they don't
just yank the children out of the home.
If this just a case of a parent being absent-minded about their care, this would
be a wakeup call. If there is a serious neglect issue, the children need an
authority figure to step in. Your report would be anonymous -- CPS would not give
out your name as the complainant while they are investigating.
Please be the best adult and friend you can be by forcing their caregivers to deal
with this potentially dangerous situation.
It makes my stomach turn to think of what can happen to two young children who are
left on their own like this Your concern is a blessing
talk to the parent about setting playdates with the girl, and talk to the girl
too. Or let her know that you like to have her over, but sometimes you do other
things too. Or tell her ahead of time: would you like to come play on Wednesday?
we can't play tuesday this week... Your situation sounds like a drag. Be
compassionate, but don't feel guilty about setting boundaries.
Recently my family and I moved to a great neighborhood in
Berkeley. We love where we live, but lately have had a few
issues with neighborhood kids playing in our yard or on the
sidewalk in front of our house. The kids, sometimes 5-10 at a
time, play catch and tag, skate, ride bikes and scooters, play
basketball and baseball, chase frisbees and so on (normal kids
stuff, I know). Balls and gear end up in our yard, often
hitting our cars and house in the process. Kids run all over
the yard and I've seen bicycles crossing our lawn, which has
destroyed our grass in areas. The neighborhood parents are nice
people, but they don't seem to care that their kids are in the
yards of others.
I don't mean for this post to seem unfriendly. I love kids and
have two boys, but they don't play outside unsupervised. I'm
aware that not everyone wants kids in their yard or playing
next to their house.
What would be the best way to encourage the kids to play
elsewhere? We want to landscape, but are reluctant to as any
new grass or plants will be trampled. I've thought about
fencing, but this doesn't seem to stop kids (they hop the
fences of our neighbors across the street regularly). I'm also
concerned about damaged to our cars from being hit on a
Any suggestions on how to handle this situation would be
Just another mom
Could you approach it from a legal standpoint ? You could
politely tell the parents that you are afraid of having
unsupervised kids in your yard because, if they got hurt, you
could be held liable. Let them know ahead of time that you'll be
asking the kids to leave whenever they are in your yard because
you are not insured to handle these kinds of situations. It
sounds like you otherwise like the neighbors and neighborhood so
try and be as nice (but firm) as possible. If the polite request
goes ignored, I would try a letter from a real estate attorney to
request they quit, then start calling the police when the kids
are in your yard. Hopefully it never goes that far and you sound
much nicer and than me so that may be too harsh. Depending on the
ages of the kids, you might get your house egged or something but
who knows ? Maybe everyone will be understanding in the matter
and you'll have your space back. Also, in terms of the front
yard and bicycles/skateboards/etc. cutting corners on your yard,
you could try a very short border fence which worked wonders for
friends who were having the same problem. Good luck and I hope
everything gets handled peacefully.
Why not try the obvious and talk to the kids and to their
parents and ask them not to play in your yard or hit your cars?
-another Berkeley homeowner and parent
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