parent opinion

PARENTING DILEMMA: "My tween wants to go Trick or Treating on his own. Should I let him?"

Normally, “I’m a cool mum, not a regular mum” – but not this week. Not according to my 11-year-old son.

This is week, I’m a “mean mum”, because I’ve refused to let him wander around the suburbs of Sydney, unsupervised, with his tribe of other equally defenceless friends – on Halloween.

The conversation/debate/outright sh*t fight started a month ago, when I was informed, “Hey, mum, I’m going trick or treating on Halloween with my mates.”

“Oh, thanks buddy, good to know,” said no Nama, ever.

This is what I actually said:

“No.”

As the ‘discussion’ escalated, I also said, “Non, nein, never, you must be insane.”

And he said, “That’s so unfair, why are you being mean? Everyone else is doing it.”

Determined to show him I’m still (sort of) boss, I walked away… but quietly, I was questioning my resolve. Did he have a point? Is it time for me to let go a little? He was so convincing…

But then, over the next month, whenever he raised it, the details of what they were planning continued to horrify me. They were meeting outside a pub, with most of them living locally or catching a bus together to get there.

I couldn’t help but wonder: were the other parents actually sanctioning this?!

But I’m old enough, and wise enough (just), to know to wait for further details, as surely the plans would change closer to the time. And they did. But I’ll get to that later, because before we got to that point, there was an arduous, continuous, overwhelming thought process that plagued my mind about the issue.

Firstly, I don’t think my son gets just how obsessed I am with him  – see the below Facebook status of mine for evidence:

Yep, obsessed.

I’ve been a sole parent for the last nine years, and this child is my everything. He’s the best person I know. He’s the person in the world who knows me the best. He’s my greatest achievement, and the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

(When he’s not being a pain in the a**.)

Admittedly, part of me was thinking, “no…not my (11-year-old) baby boy!”, whilst another part thought, “he’s got to learn independence.” He’s street-smart, resilient, can do a coffee run for me when we’re at the local shops…

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My other consideration: we moved to Sydney ten months ago. This is a new group of friends. My kid is making connections, building childhood memories in a new city, and I can’t stand in the way of that. I have to do whatever I can to support his social life.

So. All of this meant that I was feeling conflicted about my decision. When’s the right time to “let go”? Can he really, at age 11, wander around on his own?

More to the point – is my job really done already?

Because that’s the second thing – it is literally my number one job as a mum to keep my child safe. It is my job to think ahead, and consider the seven million possibilities of what can go wrong.

For example, I can’t ignore the feeling that Halloween is a prime time for people who want to steal children to be watching out for chances to steal children.

Also, there will be gangs of older kids, teenagers, walking around, too. I know from previous experience that older kids aren’t always kind to younger tribes on Halloween – there’s a bit of a pack mentality behind it.

Annnnd…What if they catch the wrong bus? What if he has an allergic reaction (he’s anaphylactic to heaps of things) to some candy?

And now, full confession: I’ve also been thinking, what’s wrong with having your ultra-cool mum trail you as you hang out with your friends? I did put that suggestion to my son, and his face was though I had asked to have a shower with him.

But guess what? That’s exactly what’s happening tonight. (The trailing, not the shower.)

Last week, one of the other mums contacted me and said she was driving half of them, and could I take the others?

Yeah. I got my own invitation, buddy.

When my kid learned that had been sanctioned by one of his mates (whose mum is obviously less of a softie than I am), he acquiesced to my presence on the night. With one rule: I don’t wear a costume.

Whatever. I’m still taking my own candy bucket.

How do you feel about kids’ safety when they’re trick or treating? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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