On Friday afternoon, a mysterious, hyperactive child appeared inside our new home in Melbourne. After much questioning, I found out this child was named Talon (I confirmed this no less than six times with him), he was four years of age and no, he didn’t know where his mother was. He then proceeded to take his massive scabby cat under his arm and head upstairs. And I didn’t stop him. Because this is my new life.
We’ve only technically lived here, in Willsmere, an old asylum for just on a week. And just quietly, it’s leading me down the loose parenting path rather quickly. Seriously, there are a THOUSAND children in this place who appear to roam around the joint unsupervised for an alarming amount of time.
I find this difficult to deal with because while I wouldn’t say I was ever a helicopter parent, I certainly knew where my kid was at any given moment. Which was usually inside our own gates, at our own home. But here, well here it’s a bit of a free for all.
And I should embrace this. I grew up that way. We’d leave in the morning, walk to our friends house (who had a pool) about 15 minutes away, and return at nightfall. And this was with an extremely strict parent. It was great, taught me life (and road skills) and well, made up my childhood. But something feels wrong about giving the green light to a four year old to roam around what is essentially the set of a Hitchcock movie. What if he goes missing? Where do I start looking?
And it started after Jack’s first day here at kindy. He came home and told me with determination that his new best friend was a kid called Harry. I took this on board and then quickly forgot it as a) he lies and b) he changes his best friend like he changes his Batman undies. Turns out, Harry lives 3 doors down from us. And in even better news, his dad owns a WINE SHOP!
So, their 3 children and our 3 children will be spending a fair bit of time together it seems. And their parents are tops. But I’ve always been weary of these kind of situations. My mother always warned me about “living in each other’s pockets” and I’ve always taken that on board. Luckily with all of us working 5 days a week and having a sweet communal pool, I think there will only be so much time allotted where we can actually bug each other.
We’ve also since then, met no less than about 20 people over drinks, BBQ’s, poolside encounters and general car park rage. Seems like our new home is a very social, welcoming and inclusive place.
So back to Talon and his mangy cat. I never did meet his mother but he turns up from time to time. He came over just yesterday afternoon, spewed a whole bunch of sentences at me, none of which I could understand other than the word ‘ukulele’ and bolted off again. I’m not even entirely sure he was speaking English. My bet is he belongs to the guy who is a professional Opera Singer at 210. But at this stage, that is just a hunch.
And look, don’t get wrong, it’s all kinds of wonderful to potentially live amoungst families who, just like us, are a little bit fucked up, a little bit tired and emotional after a full week of work and ready to live and let live as a general rule.
All I know is that if I can cut a balance somewhere between the uptight parent I guess I once was and Talon’s mother, I think we’ll be OK.
How about you? Did you grow up ‘FreeRange’? Do you overprotect your children or let them go for it?