Sorry if it seems rude, but I will not drop off my kids for a playdate
“You should drop off your kids some day,” said a well-meaning acquaintance. She was inviting my kids to play with her kids. I was supposed to leave the kids at her place, then come back a couple of hours later to pick them up.
“Yeah maybe,” I hesitated, hoping that she would be too busy to fix a time and date.
I know I am the odd one out. My neighbourhood is a buzzing activity of people dropping off very young kids at each other’s place without a thought. I understand that a certain level of trust must exist between all these families. But I have so far managed to not join the playdate bandwagon, at the risk of my own sanity for several reasons.
1) I see the India statistics on child abuse and most of it is from people kids know
The fact that most kids are abused by people they know (such as neighbours, relatives, caretakers, etc.) is not limited to India. It’s a worldwide fact. But what’s scary is the overall numbers in India. People don’t think about child safety in the context of inappropriate behaviour towards kids. And there is no flag that indicates whether someone is going to be inappropriate towards a child or not. So given that most of my parental acquaintances are recent or short-term, largely driven by kids being in the same school, I don’t know them enough to drop off my kids.
2) People don’t monitor the TV and the internet use
TV running incessantly in the background is a feature of many Indian homes. Content ranging from cheap explicit Bollywood songs to mindless violence is played constantly in front of the kids. Moreover, kids have access to computers and mobile phones without any adult supervision.
Some time ago, I accidentally discovered a relative’s two young boys watching porn on youtube — they claimed it came up randomly while they were watching superhero videos. Their mom had stepped out for an errand, their father was busy with office work at home, and it didn’t even occur to these educated upper middle class parents to not give unsupervised internet access to their kids. Since I can’t ask people to turn off their TV and internet, I can’t drop off my kids.
3) Most homes have extra relatives or people randomly drop by
Even if I know and trust the mother and father in the family, what about all the other extra people? Many Indian families tend to either have older relatives staying with them, or some other relatives visiting them. Many people have household staff which in some cases can be men. It is tough to predict who will be at the house, and how much access these people will have to the kids. Not knowing this makes the notion of a playdate scary when the kids are young.
4) Other parents may not be as paranoid as me
When someone else’s child is with me, I know it’s my responsibility to keep a diligent eye on all the kids. But this may not be the case with every parent. Since I can’t ask people about their child safety paranoia level, I would rather politely decline a playdate invitation.
I know the playdate thing will not be in my control for long. My kids will grow up and insist to visit their friends by themselves. I also know that nothing is life is controllable, and we should equip our children to be independent rather than cocoon them. But until I feel my kids are mature enough to at least recognise and talk to me about any inappropriate situations, I am going to respectfully decline when someone approaches me for a drop-off playdate.
Here are all the articles and videos that I have created about adoption in India.