Friday, September 7, 2007

The Age of Responsibility

The following email from Maleficent appeared in Prince Charming's in-box last night. It has not been edited in any way, other than to change names to maintain anonymity. It's worth noting that Maleficent is an early childhood educator.

I am writing to you out of concern for our daughter. In innocence Cinderella expressed the fact that every other day she will be left to her own means to get on the bus and that you and WS will not be there to put her on the bus (Because WS is driving Hansel to school because she doesn't want him to go on the bus due to the children not wearing their seat belts) Whatever the reason I am extremely uncomfortable with the fact that she is left to her own devices to defend herself if there was any foul play. She told me she was outside the other day when the landscapers (lawn cutters were working on the grass). I am aware, as you are, that there is a child malester who lives right up your road and I am sure you know that there patterns are to scope out a situation and if no one is there he will figure it out.
I remember you were doing a program for the school districts about the local child malesters so I Am sure that you would be more concerned in the one who lives right down the road from our daughter.
Let me know that you have Cinderella covered for the mornings as soon as possible.
Thank you.

MALEFICENT (yes she always signs her name in ALL CAPS, anyone know handwriting analysis?)

1) Foul play? Hmm... those landscapers are a tricky bunch, for sure!

2) It's spelled M-O-L-E-S-T-E-R. And it's called S-P-E-L-L-C-H-E-C-K. Just look for the little button with "ABC" and/or a "check mark" on it. (I won't even go near the punctuation/capitalization/grammatical errors.)

3) Cinderella is ELEVEN and perfectly capable of waiting IN her home for 15 minutes before her bus picks her up IN FRONT of the house.

4) If this woman spent 1/2 as much time focusing on working with us and not against us, as she has focusing on the details of the HOWs and WHYs of Hansel's transportation, we'd be in much better shape. (I sent her an email to this effect. She replied. Not to me but to Prince Charming, Hey, it's a start.)

Now, with all that being said, I remember having way more responsibilities at a younger age than Cinderella. Walking to/from school at SEVEN. Being home alone for several hours. Running to the corner deli to buy milk, bread (and cigarettes).
15 minutes here and there seems like nothing. Or is it?
We struggle with how much is too much responsibility for Cinderella. She eleven, but still very young in so many ways. But she has to grow up some time. And she will never grow up if she continues to be babied and coddled.
The pedophile 5 houses up the road is a constant concern. Cinderella and Hansel have been told about him, know what he looks like (Santa! Of course, he'd have to look like Santa.), where he lives, what kind of car he drives and what to do if he ever comes within 2 feet of our home. I hate that we have to worry about him, but it's better to KNOW than to NOT KNOW.
Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer, right?
We do not like leaving Cinderella alone. At all. Some mornings, it will be unavoidable. Some mornings. Not EVERY morning. Hansel's school starts at 8:25am. Cinderella's bus picks her up at 8:30. (I could drive her as well but she likes taking the bus; enjoys the time with her friends and playing the role of a middle schooler.)
I'm trying not to dismiss Maleficent concerns simply because they are coming from her. I'm trying to remain objective.
We're doing the right thing, aren't we?


Erin said...

My husband and I are having the exact same conversation with his ex. I drop my five year old stepson off at daycare while the stepdaughter waits at home for the bus.

My stepdaughter is very book smart, but her street smarts still need work. Staying home for an hour or two has helped her in that regard.

So far, though, a week into my stepdaughter getting herself off to school in the morning and spending two hours alone after school have worked out really well.

Good luck with the Maleficent....

boogiemum said...

I think she is old enough to stay home for that long by herself. It has to start sometime. All the middle schoolers around here stay home by themselves. We have 5 different families with them on our street and most of them are home alone in the mornings and many in the afternoons.

Dolfinnlover said...

She will be fine...

It is funny how BM are quick to point out what they see as your flaws, but can not get it together to be there for her own child.... interesting

clevergirl said...

I used to walk to school when I was seven too. It wasn't a big deal, but I lived in a small town. Not that there couldn't be any child molesters there, but I was fine.

Eleven is definitely old enough to put herself on the bus.

Bresmama said...

Megan's Law was a very wonderful victory for parents in the never ending battle to keep their children safe. That being said, 9 our of 10 times children are molested by someone that they know (a mother's paramour/boyfriend/spouse being first on the list). Sex offender neighbor is certainly someone to note but I really wouldn't obsess over it.

She sounds like the kind of woman whom, if she won 1 million dollars in the lottery would wonder why she didn't win 1 million and 1 dollars.

At 11 if you and your hubby believe that she is mature enough to stay home for 15 minutes then I say what better way to prepare her for longer periods at home alone. By 12 the majority of kids spend some short amount of time alone in their homes. :-)

Anonymous said...

I can so relate to this post. My Malefient is seemingly nice and above reproach to some, but when it really boils down to it...she's ignorant, self-obsessed, and can't stand my Prince Charming. She's half-educated and Provincial (the definition marking a person who lacks urban sophistication or broad-mindedness) and is so far succeeding in brain-washing my Cinderella to be the same. SIGH. I just spent nearly 4 hours with Cinderella finding a backpack that will carry the laptop Prince Charming gave her and all the books she needs for school at the same time. Cinderella won't give Prince Charming the time of day, so I keep trying to keep the lines of communication open. Oh, and I have a step-son too...he gets to try to side-step all of Maleficent's guilt trips and campaigns of war against Prince Charming. He's a smart boy, so he's surviving so far. I have a wonderful email from her to Prince Charming where she admits she had to pull my step-son out of bed to get him to go to school. I nearly peed my pants from laughing over that one since the dear boy sets an alarm and gets himself up at our house. Clearly he is winning the war on that one. You should hang tight and be consistent. Your Cinderella will know more and more who she can turn to for a stable and balancing force in her life as time goes on. My best wishes --Galinda.

Shannon said...

Our 4 year old was sick recently and we bought him E.T. to watch in the hospital - a favorite from my Gen X childhood. We sat there laughing as we watched the old scenes where Elliot's mom leaves Gertie (what was she..5?) home alone while she goes out to look for Elliot. Can you even imagine? Someone would go to jail for that today!

I am not saying that I would leave a 5 year old home alone, but not so long ago - it was not considered crazy - and you are talking about an 11 year old!

While we have to be careful and take precautions, what happened to also TEACHING our children how to look out for themselves? :-) Best wishes and hang in there. -- seerysm

Anonymous said...

I have been checking into your blog for about six months now. I am a "new" stepmom (almost three years, married one year in Oct) of a 14 yo girl and 17 yo boy (who lasted one year part-time with BM and has since moved in with me and dad full time). The 14 yo girl was 11 when dad moved out. He left her alone for one hour during the first month. He dropped off SD as he was going out of town (and BM knew it because son was going with him). When he got to the house, BM was nowhere to be found. He left SD at home after sitting there for 30 minutes waiting for BM. BM has used it against him ever since. I remember laughing big time over this issue when she FIRST brought it up but BM has cont'd to obsess about it ever since. Mind you, BM doesn't even remember that noone could find her because she stayed the night at her boyfriend's of the moment but didn't tell anyone that's where she was. Also, Dad had a cell phone and called every 15 minutes to make sure SD was fine til BM got home. BM doesn't have a cell phone still to this day. (A whole different story). Anyway, my point is that an 11 year old is plenty old enough to start staying home alone and you are only talking 15 minutes. My two sons were being left home for longer than that at 10!! Don't obsess over it. Leave that to Malifacent. She sounds like our BM. Cinderella will be fine!! It sounds like you've covered the "what to do in case" thing, too. I love your blog. I'm glad I'm not the only one out there who has a BM who tries to control the situation and probably thinks she does in her own mind, but truly doesn't!

Trixie_b said...

I think that an 11 year old is old enough to wait for the bus for a period of 20 mins or so.

My other thoughts concern the Santa man... I may not be too popular here, but please hear me out. Whilst Megan's law allows us to know where convicted pedophiles live, it does NOT tell us where the un-convicted ones are, and warning your children about the dangers of one man and specifically warning them about him, may be leading them to believe that he is the only danger. By focusing the children's attention to one person may lead them to believe that all other people in the street/neighborhood are OK apart from him. Not true.

If I had some perverse interest in children, I'd rent a house next to someone on the register, and then be the one luring kids in by saying, "come in, I'll protect you from the nasty man next door".

Children should be educated about the dangers of all strangers, not just the convicted ones.