On Saturday, we went to the neighbor's kid's party. We don't normally socialize that much with them. Nice people, but for whatever reason, we don't hang out. There were a lot of kids. Many people I didn't know, but enough that I did to make it fun.
We got there with most of the rest of the people around 2. They provided a keg, which didn't last 3 hours. So they got another. They roasted a whole pig. This was not your typical milk and cookies pin the tail on the donkey gig. They had a giant water slide, a slip and slide, and a sandbox.
So of course my kids got wet all over. Then they headed right to the sand. Fun.
The party was notable because it was literally the first time we were in public and neither DW nor I had an eye on the kids 100% of the time. From time to time, I'd walk over to the general area where the guys were playing washers. I'd make some small talk, but really, I was just taking in how my kids were interacting with the other kids on their own. Until now, they've really just been extensions of us. We've been there for their interactions for the most part. It is truly a big step toward independence.
It's very cool and scary at the same time. BigBrother is a little younger than most of the kids he plays with, and from time to time, he'll get bonked, or a kid won't share or whatever. He's really never dealt with that. So it's a little weird trying to coach him on that. DW really takes that stuff to heart.
At one point during the party, DearWife asks me if I knew where the kids were. I didn't, so I went to check. I didn't see them on the water toys. Didn't see them in the sand box. Did they walk out? Where could they have gone? Is BigBrother sitting on our steps scared? WHERE ARE THEY. That took about 5 seconds.
Then DW pointed out that they were behind something and in the sand box all along. Whew. I have a well known blind spot. If I am looking for something, and it's not in front or on top, it might as well be invisible, because I will not find it.
Later, I got into a game of washers with a few guys (we won and I retired undefeated by the way). I was chatting with my opponent. Seemed like a decent guy. A couple of his kids were at the party, and were coming up to him asking questions.
He kind of shooed his little girl (5? 6?) away. But her Mom had left the party temporarily in search of better alcohol, and her dad was busy - playing washers. She wanted cake, but was obviously afraid to ask the hostess for some herself, not really knowing her. Dad, acting only slightly annoyed, said "well, go and ask for some - that's how you get cake."
At one point, unbeknownst to me, the Dad tried to send his older girl home on her own. DearWife interceded and walked her home. Throughout the night the Mom came and went a few times. Dad stayed and watched Ultimate Fighting downstairs into the late night.
We left ridiculously late (for us) at 10PM. Dad and little girl stayed later. Finally, it was time for the hosts' kids to go to bed. The Dad was told this, so he sent his little girl home. Alone. In the complete dark. Scared. Tired. Alone.
"Your big brother will be there. Go to bed." (the big brother is 10)
"Oh, and if no one is home, go to the Smiths."
The scared little girl came back 15 minutes later crying on the porch. Finally, Dad took her home. I'm paraphrasing some of the events, and I wasn't there for some of them. But the basic story is true.
I can't really think of anything that makes me sadder or feel more helpless to see a kid in a bad situation, and know that there's not much you can do for them in the long run.