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I leave my kids with strangers

Submitted by on Monday, 29 March 2010 No Comment

It might not be written anywhere, but it’s a rule that was reiterated to coaches during the pre-baseball season meeting: This is not baby-sitting. Players shall not be at practice without a parent.

I’m lawyering that one a bit, because with two kids, four activities and one me I sometimes have to. A “parent” doesn’t necessarily mean “their parent” does it? Because parents are a little scarce in this household at the moment.

Such was the case at the end of soccer season, when make-up games left Boots playing at the same time Big Guy’s karate class was going on and vice versa.

“Can you stay here with H’s mom and be a good listener until I get back?” I asked Boots. “It will only be for a few minutes.”

He nodded solemnly, and when I returned from escorting Big Guy across the parking lot – where I’d left him in the temporary custody of a friend – H’s mom said Boots had indeed been a good listener. Probably a better one than he would have been if I’d been around.

I had no idea at the time what H’s mother’s name is. I’ve never been to her house. I don’t even know where she lives. Yet, I trusted her,  just as I would have any parent on the team, because I’d talked to her through out the entire season. I knew that she – as well as all the others – had once been in my shoes, too, struggling to figure out the logistics of getting multiple kids from Point A to Point B when the two points aren’t intersecting and Dad is deployed.

There’s a certain symmetry between this and what the soldiers learn very early on in basic training: Stick with your battle buddy. Among the spouses, there are ad hoc battle buddies all over the post. Maybe you need to leave you kids “parentless” at practice, or maybe another mom needs to take a bathroom break at the mall. You might not know each other’s names, but you know that you can make it work.

Parts of the world, a world where parents have to undergo background checks and fingerprinting to even volunteer at their kids’ schools, would find this strange. Acquaintances who have refused to let their children stay even close relatives would be appalled.

I’m grateful that so many people around here find it so perfectly normal that no one even blinks when I have to ask. I guarantee you that I’ll be asking often over the next year.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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