Thursday, September 22, 2005

Please hang on to your child!

Monday was the first day of Brownies for this year. Lillianna's troop meets in a conference room in the local library. After her meeting,Lillianna and her friend Emily went off in search of books. Emily's mom Janet is the troop leader and also one of my friends from childhood.

After the girls checked out their books,we all headed out the front door. For some reason we stopped in the doorway to chat for a few minutes. Janet was leaning against the open door when a 3 year old girl walked out of the library...alone. I remembered seeing the little girl in the children's section when Lillianna was waiting for Emily but I didn't notice an adult with her.

Janet asked the girl,"Should you be out here?"

The little girl looked up at us and asked, "Where's my mommy?"

Ya,that was what we wanted to know! Sure,we had the front door opened but she had to go through another door to even get to the front door. Why wasn't a parent watching her? We took her inside and as Janet reported this to the librarians,I walked around a bit with the girl to see if she could spot her mother.

Finally,a woman from the complete other side of the library came running towards the girl. She thanked us a million times and then took her child back to where she had been. Lillianna wanted to know why the mother hadn't been with her child? Why wasn't she watching her?

I don't have the answers to those questions. When Lillianna was 3 years old,I was with her in the library. She was not out of my sight for any reason. At the end of last year,when she was 7 1/2,I allowed her to go into the main library with Emily after Brownies to pick out some books to take home. Emily is one year older than Lillianna.

I trusted Lillianna to pick out her books in the children's section and then to come get me in the adult section when she was ready to check out. The two girls stayed together and I felt like this was ok for me to do. The library is only one level so I wasn't very concerned. Lillianna knew this was a big step for me and she appreciated this little bit of freedom.

At 3 years old,there is no need for freedom. There is a need for complete vigilance. Turning your back on your child for one minute in a public place could prove to be fatal. That little girl could have been scooped up and taken away if we hadn't caught her when we did.

How much freedom do you give your young children in the library?

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