26 July, 2007

Dazed and confused

I seem to be caught up in a major culture clash. My eyebrows have shot up so often over the last couple of days that I'm starting to get a cramp in my forehead.

S was invited to a classmate's birthday party. They'll be spending the afternoon playing in the woods. The invitation was a bit short notice, so the mother called me to see if S would be available. And during the call she happened to mention that her kid had invited too many people so she would be driving the children to the woods in shifts. She'd take the first group, leave them there and go back for the second group.

And she didn't sound fully convinced of the soundness of her plan when she said that she thought that they'd only be alone for about 10 minutes and that they'd be fine.

Maybe I read Hansel and Gretel once too often when I was a kid, but I think this plan is totally irresponsible! These kids are only 7-8 years old!


(If it is that close that you can leave, pick up the second group and return within 10 minutes why aren't they walking?)

I was so horrified that I offered to help out with driving and possibly the rest of the party. Not only to do a good deed, but also to act as a chaperon, because obviously we have different ideas about children's safety. She was supposed to call me back to let me know if she wanted my help.

Yesterday S got the written invitation and rather than calling me directly she sent word through S via her kid that I could come and help out.


The party is on for today and I called to say that I can come help and to let her know that I've got B with me. She was very friendly. No problem about B coming, she's got a younger child that he can play with.

And then she mentioned that she's putting together party favors and would like to include a pocketknife and could she put that in B's bag too.

(again) ???!!!

I was sure I'd misheard her. "Wie bitte?"

Thinking I just hadn't understood her German correctly she translated it for me into English: "a pocketknife."

So let me get this straight: They've invited a large group of kids under 8 for a day in the woods. If I hadn't offered to help there would be at least two occasions when they would be there unsupervised. AND SHE'S GIVING THEM KNIVES AS A SURPRISE PARTY GIFT!

Is it just me or does this sound like a cockeyed idea to you as well???


christina said...

It's not just you. I've encountered stuff like this as well. Seems to be just a generalized age-inappropriateness and not thinking stuff through beforehand and that makes me REALLY nervous sometimes.

Anonymous said...

As child challenged (childless), I am outraged.
a pocket knife? come on. that's just too dangerous.
I can see it now.

kid: look what I got! let's see how sharp it is?

Stuttgart - Lisa

Carol said...

Oh yeah, it's nuts! Maybe it's a plastic "party-favor-like" knife? (Just hopin'...)


Betsy said...

Oh God. Am back and it was even more horrific than I had expected.

You cannot even imagine how bad this was.

And I don't know which irked me out more, the (mis)behavior of the two class terrorists who were invited or the lack of planning by the person who organized this whole thing!

We ducked out early and have escaped the pocket knives (and possible blood bath). For now...

Betsy said...

Hey Carol-- nice new photo, by the way!

Goofball said...

Personally, I think it's really ok to leave your own children alone for 10 minutes at that age. i am sure I was alone longer, ...or going to do some brief groceries in the neighbourhood streets on my own or ...

but if you organise a party then you are responsible for other people's children...children you don't know well yourself, neither their level of responsibility. And if you put a group of children together, they're likely to be more wild and excited than usual..so more likely to get accidents to, I fear.

About the pocket knife: no way! Come on.

That she contacted you after your personal conversation and offer to help, via her son and your son doesn't shock me very much.

Betsy said...

You know, I think 10 minutes is OK too, if it's my own kid(s) and there are strict ground rules. (don't answer the door, don't touch the stove, no playing with knives, etc.)

But it's another matter entirely when you are taking care of other people's children, all of differing levels of maturity.

And this was a group of 13 kids. Not only is that a big group, but a couple of them were a real handful.

She left us all in a parking lot while she took two kids home and I'm telling you it would NOT have been a good idea to leave these kids alone unsupervised.

You were right about them being wild. They were throwing full bottles of schorle up in the air, wrestling and climbing trees. Any one of those activities could have gotten someone hurt, and there's no way a 7 year old would have known what to do in an emergency.

I guess I shouldn't have been annoyed about the fact that she didn't contact me directly about my offer to help. I just felt it was a bit rude because I had offered up my afternoon in order to help with all the organizational challenges. She was, after all, doing everything alone.

But then again, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. this is, after all, a woman who was surprised that she could never get another American child in S's class to teach her any swear words.

This child is 7. And comes from an extremely devout Mormon family.

Does that sound like an adult with good sense to you???