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Day 43: Independence Day

Day 43: Independence Day

I saw two 10-year old boys in the supermarket without their parents. I guess I should do something, but what?

Two boys, one supermarket, zero parents. You know I love math, but it just doesn’t add up.

This is from a series of posts on our recent move abroad (from the US to Holland). You can follow more here: Driebergen Life.

Here are the possible scenarios:

  1. I call the police and have one of their parents arrested for reckless parenting.
  2. There’s an announcement on the supermarket P.A. system letting the parents know that their children are without them.
  3. I confront them myself and let them know that they are in danger of being kidnapped.
  4. It occurs to them that they should probably be at home where they belong and they scurry out of the store.
  5. Another parent lets them know that they’re not setting a good example by being here without their parents.
  6. I ask them how many gum balls they get in that huge package and how much it cost and wish them luck with their search for sugary snacks for under 2 Euros.

I thought for sure I would see one of the boy’s parents. I even, kind of, know one of the boy’s parents and I thought it would be cool to see someone I knew in the supermarket.

I saw two 10-year old boys in the supermarket without their parents. I know I should do something, but what? [Driebergen, Holland]

I saw two 10-year old boys in the supermarket without their parents. I know I should do something, but what? [Driebergen, Holland]

But there were no parents. They weren’t waiting in the car, they weren’t filming from outdoors, they weren’t outside on a bench. I don’t know where they were. I’m sure the kids didn’t either. Because they were on a mission. They have things to do. They had two Euros and could buy whatever they wanted for it.

If we give our kids some independence, will they become more independent?

Here’s the actual scenario.

Careful, this might not be safe for the office as the graphic content might offend some parents:

  1. School was over for the day.
  2. They rode their bikes away from school (without parents).
  3. They had 2 Euros (total). (They were spending their income from this: een heitje voor een karweitje).
  4. They went to the supermarket (it’s a few blocks from school).
  5. They calculated the most possible sugar on a weight to taste to cost ratio (kids can do this complex math without the aid of a calculator or ingredients list if the incentive is great enough).
  6. Then spent half an hour checking prices, adding, subtracting and discussing.
  7. They checked out, paid and sat on a bench and chewed gum balls and drank Fanta orange. (Total bill: € 1.82, I asked.)

They’re 10 years old. I was ready for at least #2 of the “Possible Scenarios” above if #1 hadn’t already happened yet. But none of that. Just bewilderment (on my part, the kids weren’t bewildered in the least). How could they possibly think on their own without their parents? How could they find the store, remember to lock up their bikes, secure their bike helmets (that’s a joke: they don’t have bike helmets), choose what to buy, pay, get change, leave the store and not do something (bad) news worthy?

If you have to think for yourself, you’re going to do just that.

Dear reader, if you’re on the floor in fear or holding onto the edge of your laptop in anticipation of what happens next, just save yourself the drama and torment and stop reading now. Because it only gets worse.

Here’s where things get even dicier. You might want to get a drink.

I saw two 10-year old boys in the supermarket without their parents. I know I should do something, but what? [Driebergen, Holland]

These are two different 10-year old boys, but on the same day and feeding from the same candy shop. Yes, one of them happens to be mine. [Driebergen, Holland]

Just minutes later, while walking on the main street with my mother, I was accosted from behind and thought I was about to get robbed. Someone slapped me on the shoulder and was on the side of me and then in front of me in a matter of milliseconds. I didn’t have time to react, but as soon as I realized that someone was in front of me, I still didn’t realize that it was my own son. Not even my older, much more mature 12-year old, but this was my 10-year old. What in the world was he doing in town and how did he happen to find me on the street?

I searched for my wife but she was nowhere to be found. I tried to put a rational, logical spin on what was happening, but couldn’t and then quickly didn’t need to as my son explained.

“We went to buy candy after school,” my son said as he pointed to his accomplice over on a bench who waved on cue. I waved back in disbelief.

Just to be clear: these were two separate incidents of two separate groups of 10-year olds with 2 sets of parents nowhere to be seen. 

How is this possible? How can 10-year olds go into town on their own? To the store, to buy whatever they wanted, to think on their own? To eventually go home. To know how to bike there? How dare they! To be independent?

It’s Day 43 in Holland and it’s Independence Day.

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