(note: This is NOT about Chelsea's or Chelle's kids - I love J, D, M, G, and S... You will recognize the kids I'm talking about when you read it, but I wanted to be very clear...)
I've always wanted to be the Kool-Aid Mom. You know the one whose house is always open and where the kids are always running in and out and around. Now that Mary Grace is 3.5, and starting to play with instead of near other kids, this is starting to happen. However, there are a couple of kids in the neighborhood who run around loose all day, from what I can tell, and I need the advice of more experienced moms on how to handle the situation. I feel like, with summer upon us, if I don't lay some ground rules now, it's going to be a very long summer.
"Sally" lives across the street from me, with her Mom and Dad, no siblings. Mom seems young, and a bit on the shy side. Sally is 5 and can often be found wandering the neighborhood in a rather aimless manner. Certainly, she is less supervised than I think a 5 year old should be. She'll come over and I won't even realize that she's here (she's quiet) until her parents come looking for her. It takes her parents a long time to come looking for her, sometimes. I only met her mom this weekend, although I've seen her dad several times.
"Katherine" lives two blocks away and is 8. I met her mother last summer when they had puppies. She was here this weekend, and after she'd been here a while and appeared to be staying indoors with the other kids who were here, I said, "Hey, you need to call your mom and let her know where you are and what my phone number is so she can find you." She called, and no one at home answered. Are 8 year olds left home alone? What am I supposed to do in this situation? Am I babysitting her? I have no idea. Also, she played a lot of "insies and outsies" which annoyed me, she was like a cat on the wrong side of the door all day, and liked to hover around Jen and I rather than playing with the kids. I finally got annoyed (she made me feel a little bit like a bug in a microscope!) and I said, "Honey, you need to either go play with the kids or go back outside," because it was freaking me out!
Bearing in mind that my kids are 2 and 3, and that they play differently than the big kids (but OH do they love to be around the big kids - and it's nice for me when the big kids are here because I don't have to entertain my kids!!) what are your house rules for neighborhood kids? I'm thinking of implementing the following:
1) You will call your parents when you arrive in my yard or house and let them know where you are and what my phone number is.
2) I will have your parents names and numbers (in case you fall off the swingset and are unconscious, I need to know who to call after I call the ambulance!).
3) If I offer a snack, that's one thing, but don't ask for treats. If you're thirsty there's water, or your house is just over there... (I'd be annoyed if I found out that my kids were going door to door eating the neighbors cookies and candies right before dinner! And with allergies being the Very Big Deal they are now, I really don't feel safe feeding kids whose parents I don't know!)
4) All kids will help clean up the mess before returning home. And if I have trouble enforcing this one, it'll be, "We clean up every 45 minutes for 15 minutes, and if you're here you do too," and I'll set the timer.
5) No playing in our yard without one of us present. Mainly so that a) the dog doesn't get let out accidentally and b) no one gets hurt. Our backyard is sort of L shaped, with a high privacy fence around the area where the swingset is. The swingset is completely invisible from the sidewalk. If parents were looking for kids (or if I didn't know they were there!) they could stay there for days without being discovered.
6) No knocking on the door between 12 and 3 pm (lunch and nap).
7) If you can't get along with my kids, you go home. Even if you're right. Their punishment for being a creep to you is that you go home. If you're the creep, your punishment is that you go home. No arguing. I am not going to have WWF wrestling in my house, and this is a firm "no strikes and you're out" kind of policy.
What do you think? Am I overthinking this? Can I just make arbitrary rules for the neighborhood gang at my whim? What sort of rules and regulations do you have for the neighbor kids, and does your relationship with their parents (hi again, Chelle and Chelsea!) influence the way you handle their kids' friendships with your kids?
I don't remember any of the rules for the neighborhood when I was a kid. Mom??