"Mom, can I go hang out at Carissa's house today?" asked Bella.
"I don't know her parents," I replied all groggy like from the safety and warmth of my comfy bed at noon yesterday.
Yes. Noon. I slept in my bed until noon like a teenager. And I did the same thing today. It is Christmas vacation, ya know. I work hard when the kids are in school what with all the homeworks and projects and play dates.
I deserve to sleep until I just can't abide the bedhead any longer.
I have amazing bedhead. It's like nothing you've ever experienced in nature. I look certifiably insane every single morning and especially on the mornings during which I sleep until noon. In addition, my voice is very croaky and my eyes are squinty. I'm unrecognizable. Truly.
Some adults say they just can't sleep in anymore, now that they are adults. I can't understand it.
Sleeping is a skill I have worked hard all my life to perfect.
Sleep is where all the dreams of fairies and unicorns and talking earth worms fill my mind. In dreamland I can fly and spit in seven different languages.
Let's get back to Bella, shall we?
"So is that a no?" she asked.
I hesitate. She knows I hate to say no. No is my least favorite word. I feel positively wretched when I must deny my children the desires of their hearts.
But in this case I was strong and steadfast and immovable.
"Yes.... ...that's a ....no..."
She looked so disappointed I almost changed my mind. Those expressive eyes of Bella's will bring the man of her life to his knees one day. Mark my words.
"Well then can you at least take us to the zoo and can we pick her up and take her with us?"
Those Bella eyes.
"Yes. I'll be ready in 20 minutes."
Within an hour I had controlled my hair and eaten a ham and cheese sandwich for brunch and was on my way to Carissa's.
Carissa came bounding out the door and jumped in the car. We were off to the zoo.
It suddenly occurred to me... Heeeyyy... wait just a cotton pickin' minute here... If I don't know Carissa's parents... than that means... they don't know me! The parents of this sweet, lovely little girl have allowed her to jump into the car of a stranger.
I am that stranger.
What if I were a scary psycho?
What if I were to feed her to the lions at the zoo?
Or "accidentally" dropped over the railing at the crocodile exhibit?
Or offer her a toxic Big Mac with freeze dried fries?
Luckily for Carissa I am not a scary psycho, despite the fact I look like one every morning.
We had a lovely time at the zoo.
I treated the children to milkshakes at Dairy Queen afterwards and took her home.
But I felt unsettled.
When I was a child my mother never let me out of her sight. I rarely went to friend's houses. She rammed stranger danger and molestation awareness down my throat at every turn. She told me terrible tales of abduction. She spared no details when she told bedtime stories of bad men chopping up little girls and leaving their bodies in ditches.
I was deathly afraid of all men with facial hair. Terrified of anyone on a motorcycle. And thought little old ladies might poison me at the slightest opportunity.
I have passed these wonderful fears on to my own children (minus the scary details).
I don't know what to think about parents that easily let their children out the door without getting the 411.
What do YOU think? Were your parents overprotective? Would you let your child go somewhere with people you didn't know? Are you terrified of strange motorcycle riding men with facial hair?