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Baffled by a Playdate

Baffled by a Playdate

A mom took to TikTok, begging for advice: “My kid was outside, another kid was walking outside somewhere, and then they stopped and started playing together.”

She was baffled.

The mom went on to explain that the unknown kid was 8 years old. He was polite and seemed well cared for. He came into the house with her son, and they proceeded to play video games all afternoon. The polite, nameless boy didn’t leave for six and a half hours.

That was the issue.

The mom didn’t understand how a child could make a new friend, come over, and play without his mom or dad freaking out and searching for him. If her own son had disappeared for six hours, she added, she would be calling the police.

Now that this boy was under her roof, she said, she had absolutely no idea what to do next.

“I don’t know this kid, I don’t know his mom, I don’t know where he lives,” she said.

At some point, some sort of communication occurred between the TikTok mom and the mystery boy; he told her he had a curfew of 8:30 p.m.

But that only left the mom with more problems to ponder: “Do I walk him home at 6:30 so I can meet the parent and introduce myself?” she mused. “Or do I just let him go, or do I call someone?”

While the video was subsequently made private, over 100,000 people viewed it. This prompted Yahoo! News to write about it, and over 800 people left comments on the article. Many of the elder commenters pointed out that when they were kids, this had been a perfectly normal way to make friends:

“If an 8-year-old is old enough to talk and tell you their curfew, then they can tell you their parent’s phone number.”

“According to FBI statistics we are safer now than ever before… This boy is a free-range kid.”

“Don’t ask random people online for things you should be able to figure out on your own.”

I would like to add a few observations. First, parents have been bombarded by articles like “10 Tips for a Safe Sandbox Playdate.” They think every parenting act requires expert advice. Faced with a question, they immediately consult their phones for help.

Second, parenting has become such a landmine that instead of doing something hands-on and simple — like calling the other parent or walking the boy home — parents feel dicey about any interactions with kids who are not theirs.

Third, children’s lives have become so micromanaged that the idea of a kid being able to take care of himself for any stretch of time seems either miraculous or suspicious. We find ourselves marveling at the kind of superkid that can entertain himself — and also stay alive — for an entire afternoon and evening.

We have de-normalized and even criminalized the idea of kids being out and about on their own. That’s why I particularly appreciated a comment that read, “At least she didn’t call CPS.”

In a follow-up TikTok, the mom apparently told viewers that when it was time for the kid to leave, she did end up walking him home.

The boy’s parents, she reported, “were not concerned in the slightest. That was wild to me!”

What’s wild is that a capable child went out to play on his own, made it home by curfew, and nothing bad happened — and it was considered news.


Image credit: Pexels


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  • Avatar
    July 24, 2023, 6:26 pm

    We are certainly living in bizarro world.

    I wonder if this "amazed mom" supports the idea of a child deciding for themselves a "gender change?"

  • Avatar
    July 24, 2023, 6:27 pm

    Bemoan the absence of common sense, replaced by social media… proving that it is no longer common.

  • Avatar
    Steve Browne
    July 24, 2023, 7:01 pm

    When my children were younger we moved around a bit for a few years. Wherever we landed my daughter would charge out into the neighborhood and return with 3-4 new BFFs wanting a sleepover.
    When she was in elementary school she once exclaimed, "I'm sure glad I'm a free range kid!"
    Signed, Single Dad

  • Avatar
    July 25, 2023, 2:48 am

    When I was five, Mom would often call me to her, put some money in my pocket and a list (which we'd go over together)
    and send me packing off to the grocery store three blocks away.. two of them round a corner and along a busy four lane street in East Oakland.. Had to cross three streets on my own. No one ever thought anything of it. We only had one car Dad took that to work. She needed something fir supper, off I went. Grade school I got driven first year, second year I hd to walk. We'd gotten another car I guess, or Dad carpooled, something like that. Moved to Orange Coiunty Clif when I started third grade. At eight I had taight myself how to ride my Dad's HUGE bike,, and rode it as often as I could. To school and back was about six miles. I often rode to friend's houses, and just trouging into the undeveoped lands to the east and south of us. High school I convinced Dad I NEEDED a t4en speed.. so we found a used one. Thirty five bucks. He had paid thirty for the heavy pig bike I had been riding, somewhere in the late 1930's. I began to sprout legs.. or was it wings? Down to the bay to go sailing (17 iles each way) Senior year I know I rode ten thousand miles, all over Southern Californa between Capistrano and Point Conception, out east to Big Bear, Lake Elsinore, even as far out as March Air Force Base. Cell phones had not even been dreamt up yet. Die in the pocket and find a phone booth. I called for help ONCE in all those years. Mom came, piling the kids into the old Ford wagon. Never said anything harsh until we got home.. when she quietly informed me she had performed her last rescue for me. If you're big enough to get yourself out there, you're big enough to get yourself back home.. and so I did.

    Go and read about the pioneer settling the west days, from Kentuckey westward. Amazing accounts of young children being orphaned by raidsm huse fires, woods accidetns, etc. Kids of fourteen, fifteen stepped up and carried on the way their good parents had raised them to do. Live gives some knuckle sandwiches, go find the mustard and chow down. lf today's "moms" can't make any life decisions on their own and quickly without their silly phones and the Big Goo, what hope is there for our future?
    Thankful I know several dozen REAL kids who have a zest for life, adventure, exploring and learning new things, and most fun can carry on an adult conversation.

  • Avatar
    Brad Sears
    July 25, 2023, 6:47 am

    Interesting observations. Our pastor, now in his mid-50’s, shared a story this past Sunday. When he was 11 years old his father was away on a business trip. It was a Saturday morning. Our pastor had what he thought would be an exiting day off school planned. But his mom and dad had spoken the previous evening. During that conversation, his mom had explained that the family car’s brakes weren’t working properly. So, dad told her to have our 11 year old protagonist replace them. (Day “ruined.”)

    Although the brake job took all day, the job was completed. And, when dad returned, he complimented our young hero on a job well done.

    The moral of the story is that even though dad had a well-paying executive position, he still did a lot of DIY work around the house and made sure his son helped by fetching tools, holding parts, and whatever “menial” tasks needed done. So, he knew the boy. His capabilities. His attitudes. His potential. He also knew the boy had reached an age where needed to be challenged, given responsibilities that would force him to think, and to use what he had learned watching his father doing the work a man was expected to do as head of the household. Dad ad saw an opportunity and took a “risk.”

    But was it a risk?

    Yes. (Of course.). But that’s the point of responsible parenting. To prepare the next generation to be come responsible parents themselves one must teach one’s children by example to prepare them to face the inevitable challenges they will encounter in life and to give the confidence and courage to meet those challenges to the best of their abilities. And, having taught them, one must show trust in them.

    The child, knowing his parent’s trust in—and reliance upon—him. Will do his (or her!) best to live up to that trust. Why? Does any child want to disappoint—be thought less of—in his parent’s eyes?

    Will children always succeed? No. Of course not. But just as success builds confidence, failure is the better teacher if met with the right attitude. Parental responsibility, then, is to teach, encourage, and guide their children when they do their best but fall short in some respects—which they will. But, as one of my mentors in business never tired of telling me: “nothing succeeds like failure.”


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