I just took the ChatterBox out for pizza – he earned a free slice and a free ice cream through a learning program at school. While we were there a group of four girls came in, not one of them more than seven years of age. No parent with them. One girl went up to the counter, stood on tippy-toe to order, and paid with the money she had been clutching in her fist.
The food was ready, the girls ate and chattered and ate and ordered ice cream. Then left. Again, alone. Now, I didn’t see where they went after leaving the store – perhaps a parent was waiting in the parking lot, perhaps they live just down the street. It just struck me that I would never allow my NINE year old to hang out in a public place without a parent present – yet these girls were without parental supervision for a prolonged period of time. I worried for them – if anyone wanted to walk off with one of them, it would not have been difficult.
Am I over-reacting? Is it OK for a group of 7 year-olds to be alone in a pizza store? At what age would it be ok? Am I coddling my 9 year old by not allowing him this kind of independence?
Please weigh in.