This evening at 5:55, Laura was at her friend's for a sleepover (she has the whole week off from school), Matt was in the basement working, Hank was finishing his first supper in the dining room, and I was walking in that mom circuit from the kitchen to the laundry room to the living room to the dining room. Do you have that circle in your house? I've worn a groove.
The doorbell rang. I opened it to see my two little foster children from two houses over, Conspiracy Guy's daughters. I greeted them. They never say anything at the door, like "Hello," until they're prompted. They just stand there with faces of mute expectation. After a moment they let it be understood that they wanted to come in and play with Hank.
Now, at 5:55 at my latitude today, it was dark. So I said, "Girls, do your mom and dad know you're here? It's dark, don't they want you at home now?" The little one shook her head. "They said we can stay until 7."
Oh, well that's all right then. Super, if your dad says that you can show up here at dark and stay for an hour, then what concern could I possibly raise?
Hank scrambled down from the bench and led them to the trampoline. After they'd jumped for about ten minutes, they all three filed through the back door, ready to begin the indoor play portion of the visit. I said, "Okay girls, it's nighttime. Time to go home!" And so they did.
(I probably would have let them stay out on the trampoline longer, but lately I have developed an intolerance for seeing able-bodied children sitting around on my furniture.)
Reader, if you had told your child that she could set out at dark to a neighbor's house and stay until 7pm, and then your child was sent home again in ten minutes, would you take any sort of lesson or mental note from that experience? 'Cause these people won't.