I’m More Afraid Of Having The Cops Called On Me Than I Am Of Letting My Kid Play Alone

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police-knocking-confused-womanThe other day I was driving with my daughter around our new town when I needed to stop for gas. I decided to run in for water and maybe a treat for my daughter; a slurpee, some cashews, perhaps a cherry flavored cigarillo? Lord knows my child loves those things.

I parked the car in front of the shop and looked back at my daughter, who was happily bopping along to some kind of terrible music and I started to tell her that I’d be right back when  I stopped myself.

The gas station was crowded, and suddenly I was warring with myself. It was hot like whoa, so I knew my daughter would be more comfy where she was instead of getting out and shutting the car off so that the interior could quickly heat up to gnarly levels for when we got back in.

But then there was that other thing–I knew that in this crowd, “that guy” or “that lady” was there. Which one would it be? I didn’t fear the unknown predator. The pervert or kidnapper or wicked witch who keeps kids in cages and boils them later.

No, ladies and gents, I am now officially more afraid of the person that will call the cops on me for letting my kid sit in the cold, comfy car, than I am of the very scary but practically nonexistent threat that my child will be abducted. It’s deeper than the fear of being judged, it’s the idea that someone can call the cops, and you’ll be arrested, and you can have your kid taken away from you for everything from dropping a few choice words in front of them to letting them play on a playground while you do other things.

I searched faces, who looked the nosiest? The most pearl-clutchy? Most likely to video record themselves calling the cops and my subsequent reaction to getting told off?

A recent poll said that of 1,000 adults polled, 68 percent believed that nine-years-old was too young to be playing at a park by themselves, and 63 percent believed the same of twelve-year-olds. Seriously? Listen, by the time your kid is twelve they’ll be doing all kinds of heinous shit. Playing at the park is one of the tamer things you can let them do.

To be fair, I never really was afraid of the unseen predator. I mean, when my child was a toddler I was afraid of everything. I am the mother who took my child to a different end of the park because I didn’t like the way a squirrel was looking at her.

But once your child gets a little older, you see them a little differently. All of the things they do independently, all of the ways they make you proud. You would be surprised how young they are when you start to feel comfortable trusting them to do stuff-my daughter was six when I let her walk up the street to see friends (and yes, I watched from the window) and seven when I first started to let her run ahead to the park solo. I could see the park from my house, and I usually met her there after ten to fifteen minutes.

Soon she’ll be eight. I used to feel excited about all the ways she’d be able to spread her wings even more. Bike to school? Go home with a friend after class? Hit up the gas station by herself for some cherry cigarillos?

I loved doing that stuff when I was younger, with the exception of cigarillos. I was more of a Newports gal myself.

Now I’m not as excited. I wonder about some busybody poking their head out of the window and tattling on me, or some rando recording the unspeakable crime of me not tethering myself to my daughter for every second of every day and posting it online. I like that my daughter is independent and confident enough to do things herself, and I hate that it’s my fear that will hold her back.

I ended up taking her inside the gas station. It just wasn’t worth the risk.

(Image: Kzenon/Shutterstock)