At some point over the Summer holiday, it became apparent that my house was simply the best house on the street. It has a big flashing beacon above it,visible only to those between 3-12, that advertises the fact that we have a) chickens and b) a soft soap mother inside. From August onwards, every knock at the door was a kid. Sometimes 2 or 3. Sometimes with kids that even the kids I knew didn't know. ("Who's he?" "Dunno. He's got a bike") In the (few) sunny days we had, i'd let them in. They'd play in the garden, bounce on the trampoline, eat all my ice pops, and basically make my 4 year old feel really cool. He'd show off to them and they'd ignore him.
When school started, it thinned. Now we are down to a hardcore of 4 kids who love this house. They play beautifully with my two, and can while away several hours with a handdrawn treasure map and the garden. But things have changed.
Firstly, it's school nights. Secondly, he's 4. Thirdly, I don't want him up till 8pm playing kerbie. And yes, he IS asking because he sees you do it (even though you are 6). And lastly, don't you have to go home and eat, or something? Turns out, no. The weekend just gone, we had 6 kids, from the street, from 11am until 8pm, at a barbecue we had for friends. Of course, we fed them. Because they didn't go! And nobody came for them. Son thinks it's great, but i'm wondering.
How can a parent allow a child out for that long, round someones house, without actually meeting me? How can they not ask them home? How can they not? And if they cannot do that, how can I send them away?
I'm thinking back to a time when I was about 13, and in a state at home. I had a friend whose mother was probably sick to the back teeth of me mooching about being grim and sad, but she nonetheless fed me, let me stay till hometime, and never hassled me. It was like a little snapshot of how families were. I would watch the mum and dad chat and talk to each other happily. I'd be amazed at the meals. So big! So home cooked! So not a Findus Crispy pancake! I loved them. I wanted to be adopted. I'm pretty sure I went as far as asking. In short, they were a lifeline. So i'm not about to turn away a few kids who want to be here rather than there. But I am thinking ground rules. I'd quite like to hear from anyone who has the problem, to see what you think of these:
My house, my rules
You get it out, you tidy it up
You're only in the rooms i say so, and NEVER in mine
Monday-Thursday, my kids bedtime is your time to go. I know you stay up later. I don't care.
You eat, you wash up with me.
If I say go, you go.
You give me your parents phone numbers.
I'm loathe to rush round the houses of the parents and insist on meeting them, but I do wonder if I shouldn't try to see them. But I fret i'll get me head kicked in. Reading back I sound judgemental. Maybe i'm out of time. Maybe everything has reverted back to goalposts for jumpers and everyone playing in the street. Give 'em a jam sandwich and send 'em off all day. Am I being precious? I'd really like an opinion.