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#1 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
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A few months ago my 5 year old asked to take the train by herself. I told her that I wasn't comfortable with that but we could discuss it again after she turned 6. After all, she was never turning 6, right? lol.gif

 

Her 6th birthday is in a few days and I was thinking about her request again and I think I have come up with a solution I am comfortable with. 

 

We live near a train station that is one stop from the end of the line. I thought I could send DH ahead to wait at the other end. I would put her on the train with my cell phone and have DH meet her on the platform at the next town. It is a 3 minute train ride in a safe area. Since it is the end of the line, there is no way she would miss her stop. 

 

Oh and she takes the train with me several times a week so she knows how to behave and what to expect on the train. 

 

Would you be comfortable with that scenario? 

 

eta: I forgot to mention, we live in Switzerland where trains a big part of life. ;) 

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#2 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 04:26 AM
 
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I would be concerned about someone calling CPS because a little kid was alone on a train.  I can imagine safety officers waiting at the next station, and when they see your DH having some questions for him and possibly taking this to a higher authority.

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#3 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 04:54 AM
 
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It doesn't sound like a good idea to me, and frankly, I don't see the point. 

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#4 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 06:54 AM
 
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Has she brought up the subject again now that her 6th birthday is near, or are you just thinking about it on your own?

I'm an auntie, not a mama, but I think 6 is still too young for this. Would you let her wander around in a store out of your sight at this age?

If she is still asking for this, maybe the two of you could play at her riding the train "alone" by each sitting in a different part of the train car - you could still be watching her every second, but she could pretend she's having! an! adventure!
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#5 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 08:24 AM
 
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I have a 6yo and I would not be comfortable with her doing that.  BUT I live in Canada, not Switzerland, where it would be very VERY unusual to see a kid that age by themselves on a train, not to mention we never take the train here (besides the Metro which is very crowded and I have run into enough situations that made *me* feel uncomfortable that my kids will not be riding it alone until they are much older).  Where you live do kids often take the train by themselves?


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#6 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 08:40 AM
 
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I'd feel quite comfortable with that, if I didn't think people would be alarmed to see a 6 year old riding alone.  I don't know what's considered normal in Switzerland.  Here, I think there would be a big risk someone would freak out and yell at the parents, or worse.  But I think that's about the only risk.  It sounds like a pretty safe scenario.

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#7 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 08:46 AM
 
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I don't think I'd be comfortable with that.  But then, my 6 yo doesn't even like to ride the school bus filled only with kids from school - so it's hard for me to imagine putting him on a train by himself.  For a 3 minute ride, it seems like a hassle just to do for fun (with you at one end and DH at the next stop).  But if it's something she is really looking forward to, I guess I might consider doing it just once.  But then, will she want to take the train for longer amounts of time and more frequently?  How are the other passengers, generally?  Not sure how your train is in Switzerland, but I wouldn't put my kids on the bus downtown w/o me b/c there are drunks and inappropriate things that go on.  I'm totally assuming your train is not like that, but if trains are a huge method of transportation in your city, I guess I am comparing it to busing/subway systems in other places. 


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#8 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 09:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post

I would be concerned about someone calling CPS because a little kid was alone on a train.  I can imagine safety officers waiting at the next station, and when they see your DH having some questions for him and possibly taking this to a higher authority.


I really really doubt that safety officers would make it to the destination station within the three minutes of the train ride.

 

I would be comfortable with this for a 6 year old. I've always considered it important that my kids are comfortable using public transportation, I consider it a very important life skill.
 

 

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#9 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 10:24 AM
 
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I lived in Switzerland I would think you and your daughter would be fine. Trains are such a normal way of life.

 

Do the trains still have actual have conductors? If so maybe check in with them when your daughter boards?  That way if another adult "freaked out" the conductor would know it was ok.  

 

Or maybe she would agree to ride in one car while you rode in another?

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#10 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 12:25 PM
 
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i think if it's something she wants to do, it would probably be fine. i wouldn't bother bringing it up unless she asks again, but seriously, what could possibly go wrong in that scenario? i might not send my 6 year old solo downtown on a regular basis, but a one-time experience with so many safegaurds, i think she'd appreciate it!

 

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#11 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 12:34 PM
 
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I can't say I'd be comfortable with putting my kids on the train alone (they're 8 and 11), but you know your child and the safety situation of the trains.


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#12 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 12:39 PM
 
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We do not have trains here for this to work, but I would do it if we did and my child wanted to.

 

I guess our equivalent is walking to the grocery store a few blocks from our house. My 7 year old likes to go a different way from me for a couple of the block sometimes. That little bit of independence is such a huge confidence builder, and I think it would be the same with your daughter. Also, if you were ever to get separated from her on the train, it would be nice for her to have had some practice going alone, so she can remain calm and get back to her home station (or whatever your plan would be for handling that situation).

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#13 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 02:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post

I lived in Switzerland I would think you and your daughter would be fine. Trains are such a normal way of life.

 


This. I think it is hard for some people who are not used to such a scenario, plus a whole other culture to be able to see the situation clearly. 

 

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Originally Posted by Owen'nZoe View Post

We do not have trains here for this to work, but I would do it if we did and my child wanted to.

 

I guess our equivalent is walking to the grocery store a few blocks from our house. My 7 year old likes to go a different way from me for a couple of the block sometimes. That little bit of independence is such a huge confidence builder, and I think it would be the same with your daughter. Also, if you were ever to get separated from her on the train, it would be nice for her to have had some practice going alone, so she can remain calm and get back to her home station (or whatever your plan would be for handling that situation).


And this. Since it is your DD that wants this, and she brought it up again now that she is turning 6, I would say she is interested and able, and as the pp said, it can be a great confidence booster. I also let my 4 yo and 6 yo go a different way to the park than I do, or run home to get their bikes.... because these small steps now are what allow them to explore their world and grow in confidence, knowing I am right there - in this instance taking a different route, but we will be meeting in 5-10 min. We have trains here and if my 6yo insisted on the scenario, I would do as you are suggesting - let him on stop a and have DH waiting at stop b. And no one is going to be getting mad. They might stop and ask "are you ok or lost" and he would say "no, my dads at the next stop" and they would say "OK" and carry on. In fact this has happened to us. DS bikes ahead of DD and me, but he has to wait at the busy intersection. So while he is waiting he has twice been asked by other people if he wants them to guide them across the street or whatever, and he just points us out, saying he is waiting for us. I tend to think most people are this way, not instantaneously jumping right from assumption to calling the cops. You know your kid, her personality. Go with that info.

 

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#14 of 120 Old 03-29-2011, 07:57 PM
 
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oh! maybe that could be one of her birthday surprises. that would be AWESOME!!! take her to the station on her bday and see if she wants to do it. or maybe ask her on her bday morning and then plan the day accordingly. 

 

i'd be totally fine with dd knowing who she is. i'd also have been ok at 5 since dd has an informed freaker and she would not freak easily. 

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#15 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 04:34 AM
 
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No way.  I wouldn't do it.  Six years old is too young to be on her own without supervison.  Period.   


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#16 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 05:48 AM
 
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No way.  I wouldn't do it.  Six years old is too young to be on her own without supervison.  Period.   


Can you explain why?  6 years old is such an arbitrary number. Why not 6?  Once child maturity level at 6 could be more than another at 7.  I am really curious to understand your POV.

 


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#17 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 06:29 AM
 
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Originally Posted by acdmama View Post

No way.  I wouldn't do it.  Six years old is too young to be on her own without supervison.  Period.   


Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post


Can you explain why?  6 years old is such an arbitrary number. Why not 6?  Once child maturity level at 6 could be more than another at 7.  I am really curious to understand your POV.

 

 

Harsh acdmama. I don't think flat blanket statements are useful for anyone. Maybe it depends on the child, the environment, their personality and life experiences...

 

I was a somewhat flaky, impulsive child, so this would not have been an option for me at 6. Then again, my parents didn't give me breathing room to be on my own, so I could develop some maturity. It was a combination of personality and environment. 
 

My DS is 6, is very rule-oriented and mature. And I have given him the environment to explore his world independently, with more freedom of movement and responsibility over time. So he would be ready to do this now. Again, a combination of personality and environment. 

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#18 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 06:35 AM
 
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I would find out legally what age is allowed and take it from there.

 

 

I know that many states (in the US) have a set age to be left home alone, I would use that as a rough guide and then factor in child maturity and situation (day/night/cost/familiarity, etc).

 

I also would make sure the train staff (if there is one) knew and could keep and eye out.

 

 

Also know that once you do allow her to ride alone, you will face her asking to do it more and more often so make sure you are comfortable with it.

 

 

No, I would not let my child ride our city buses at 5/6 alone- I probably would pick an age around 10 and have set rules/places/times as well and encourage buddy travel until they are older.

 

But in a different culture, it may be the norm and safer than in our area.

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#19 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 08:48 AM
 
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OF COURSE every child and every situation are different.  It's not a risk I would be willing to take. I don't think it's harsh to suggest that our job as parents is to keep our children safe.  There is a difference between "independent exploration" and young children being completely on their own.  I would not be willing to risk my child's safety and it's naive to think that nothing could happen.  Several of the suggestions DO make sense, letting her pick a different seat on the same car so she has the "adventure" bit while still having a parent with her. IMO, it sends the wrong message, that at 6 years old you don't need a parent with you.

 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by acdmama View Post

OF COURSE every child and every situation are different.  It's not a risk I would be willing to take. I don't think it's harsh to suggest that our job as parents is to keep our children safe.  There is a difference between "independent exploration" and young children being completely on their own.  I would not be willing to risk my child's safety and it's naive to think that nothing could happen.  Several of the suggestions DO make sense, letting her pick a different seat on the same car so she has the "adventure" bit while still having a parent with her. IMO, it sends the wrong message, that at 6 years old you don't need a parent with you.

 

But what you said was:

 

 

Quote:
No way.  I wouldn't do it.  Six years old is too young to be on her own without supervison.  Period.

Why 6? Specifically? You weren't saying *my* 6 year old isn't ready. You said 6 years old-period.

 

Also who are you sending a "message" to?  Your child? We are not talking about forcing a child to do something they don't want to do nor are we talking about abandoning her.  We are not talking about leaving a 6 year old in the car so the mom can get her hair done or leaving a 6 year old at home alone for hours at a time. We are not talking about sending a child who isn't it ready and has not shown signs that she is ready.

 

 

We are talking about a 3 minute train ride where her mom puts her on the train and her father picks her up.  This same child has been riding this train already, this train is regular part of her life.  This not a parent forcing her child off to ride a strange train in a strange town alone.

 

The message the OP is trying to send is "how can I empower my child to do what she what she wants to do and yet still be safe".  She wants her daughter to hear "I trust you and have confidence in you but I also want you to be safe". Isn't that a wonderful message for a child whether the OP choose to do it or not?

 

 

 


 


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#21 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 09:39 AM
 
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No way. If she had an older cousin, say 13 yo, I might let her go with her cousin. Including the precautions of Dad at the other stop, etc. But a 6yo by herself, no way.

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#22 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 09:46 AM
 
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Originally Posted by acdmama View Post

OF COURSE every child and every situation are different.  It's not a risk I would be willing to take. I don't think it's harsh to suggest that our job as parents is to keep our children safe.  There is a difference between "independent exploration" and young children being completely on their own.  I would not be willing to risk my child's safety and it's naive to think that nothing could happen.  Several of the suggestions DO make sense, letting her pick a different seat on the same car so she has the "adventure" bit while still having a parent with her. IMO, it sends the wrong message, that at 6 years old you don't need a parent with you.

 


It sends the message that at 6 you don't need a parent with you for a 3 minutes train ride when one parent puts you on the train and the other meets you 3 minutes later at the destination. Not an unreasonable message, in my opinion, and one I would have no qualms about passing to my kids.

 

Realistically, what do those who feel this is unsafe think is likely to happen to the child in public on a train in that 3 minutes?
 

 

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#23 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 09:55 AM
 
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C'mon Choli! nono.gif

 

There could be a child molester on that train and a lot can happen in 3 minutes!

A deranged man (or woman) could expose themselves to her

The train could CRASH or BLOW UP!!!

Lightening could strike!!!

She could suddenly get sick and throw up and choke on her own vomit

 

I could go on and on!

 

 

 

 

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#24 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 09:55 AM
 
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If it was as you described then yes I would be ok with it. 


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#25 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 10:00 AM
 
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I live in NYC where there are both greater metro commuter trains and inner-city subways.  My DD is 4.5 now, and is very savvy with regard to how trains work, where to get off, platform safety, etc.  That being said, I'd be less inclined to let her ride the subway alone than one of the high speed commuter trains.  The commuter trains seem to have a lot of conducter oversight whereas the subway is an often crowded and precarious place.  Generally the subway is safe for a normal adult human being, but I've been riding it long enough to know that people can be inconsiderate and rude, as well as just "out to lunch" mentally speaking.  Because of DD's size and inability to adequately defend herself against the press of the crowd, I wouldn't feel comfortable allowing her to ride alone until a few more years from now.  A lot of kids travel by subway to school, but they are almost always in pairs or groups and they tend to be in 8 year to 17 year range. 

 

The commuter trains are a different story.  They tend to be spacious and a bit more genteel (sp?) and there are conductors traveling through the cars constantly.  Travelling alone from one stop to another with parents/guardians on each end?  Yes, I could see that happening and be okay with it.

 

Actually, I don't know if there are rules requiring that children under a certain age be accompanied on trains here in NYC, but I do know that strangers would freak out about seeing someone as young as six traveling alone.  Despite all the madness here, people do exhibit a bit of outrage about certain things like this.  I know that an automatic response for me would be to raise my eyebrows.  It is just not common to see someone around the age 8 or under traveling by themselves.


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#26 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 10:05 AM
 
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can you asses your child? forget what the norms are.

 

but just look at your child and see what they can achieve.

 

it is funny isnt it, that we push for independence as babies and when they are raring to go we say uhmmm no stop. you cant do that yet. 

 

if i wasnt tied by legal issues and a coparent my dd would have a lot of freedom to do things by herself. 

 

for instance since 6 she has been riding the bus independently with me "miles" away from her. she has crossed roads (stop sign - semi busy road) two blocks away from me as we walked to the bus stop. she has been left alone at home (duplex) with a neighbour being informed at that age for half an hour. gosh somedays i'd even come back and find her still in the same place lost in what she was doing. at 8 she has been home for 2 hours alone (with neighbors being aware). she is a careful child and knows what to do. once she begged me to let her stay longer and i did. what did i return to. my child admitting that was too long. she was scared. nothing was up and she was sewing, but the silence in the house for 3 hours got to her. now me telling her wasnt enough for her to believe it. she had to discover that herself. and now she knows. 

 

some children need independence more than others. mine is one of them. we get into my college campus and dd walks to the study center alone (she's been doing that since she was 7) while i go to class. 

 

i am sorry, but i find we are too molly coddling our children - esp. those who want to do it and are totally capable of it. if dd was born in a 3rd world country she would be working earning money for the family (which kinda she has done by helping her daddy's friend who broke her arm - did the dishes, did laundry and raked the leaves in a giant backyard). 

 

it isnt the safety factor that concerns me. it is the freak out factor. how dd will handle under stress. she has had opportunities and proven to me she can keep a calm head - actually better than i can. 


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#27 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
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This whole thing started because DD overheard me telling someone that I thought she was really good at navigating the train system here. I thought at the time and still do that if she got separated from me in Zurich, she could get the train home. Obviously I don't want that to happen but I am glad that she has the knowledge if she needs it (G-d forbid). 
 

The idea of picking a different seat than me is good but she's already done it. I usually take DS in the Ergo but if I have a bunch of shopping to do, I take the stroller which has to stay just inside the train doors. I don't like DD standing up when the train starts and stops so I send her to a seat. She has chosen to sit upstairs (double decker train) a couple of times and for 1 stop, I let her. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post

I'd feel quite comfortable with that, if I didn't think people would be alarmed to see a 6 year old riding alone.  I don't know what's considered normal in Switzerland.  Here, I think there would be a big risk someone would freak out and yell at the parents, or worse.  But I think that's about the only risk.  It sounds like a pretty safe scenario.


There are kids a couple of towns over that commute one train stop to school starting at around the age of 8. They generally go in a group but I've seen solo kids too. 

 

 

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I don't think I'd be comfortable with that.  But then, my 6 yo doesn't even like to ride the school bus filled only with kids from school - so it's hard for me to imagine putting him on a train by himself.  For a 3 minute ride, it seems like a hassle just to do for fun (with you at one end and DH at the next stop).  But if it's something she is really looking forward to, I guess I might consider doing it just once.  But then, will she want to take the train for longer amounts of time and more frequently?  How are the other passengers, generally?  Not sure how your train is in Switzerland, but I wouldn't put my kids on the bus downtown w/o me b/c there are drunks and inappropriate things that go on.  I'm totally assuming your train is not like that, but if trains are a huge method of transportation in your city, I guess I am comparing it to busing/subway systems in other places. 



No drunks during the day, only Swiss grandmas. The trains are used by people commuting to work and other towns for shopping, etc. The trains are very clean and safe. 

 

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Originally Posted by acdmama View Post

No way.  I wouldn't do it.  Six years old is too young to be on her own without supervison.  Period.   


lol.gif I am already in trouble with DD's German teacher because I won't let her walk across town to her weekly lesson by herself. I think taking the train 1 stop is less dangerous than taking the train underpass, crossing 2 streets, and cutting through a high school basketball court. The teachers here encourage the kids to walk without parents starting at age 4.5. DD usually walks home by herself but that is because we live 50 feet (and no streets) away from her school. 

 

 

xposted with a bunch of people. It is a commuter, suburban train, not a subway. (An S-bahn for those who've visited Zurich)

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#28 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 10:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalaland42 View Post

lol.gif I am already in trouble with DD's German teacher because I won't let her walk across town to her weekly lesson by herself. I think taking the train 1 stop is less dangerous than taking the train underpass, crossing 2 streets, and cutting through a high school basketball court. The teachers here encourage the kids to walk without parents starting at age 4.5. DD usually walks home by herself but that is because we live 50 feet (and no streets) away from her school. 

 

lol.gifoh dear. i think i am living in the wrong country. dd would have worshiped her teacher for suggesting that. 
 

 


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#29 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 10:23 AM
 
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No way, No how. Would I send a million bucks in plain view unsupervised on a train? No way, No how.
And I'm sure your DD is as priceless as mine.

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#30 of 120 Old 03-30-2011, 10:28 AM
 
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My initial reaction was that I absolutely would.  Three minutes to one stop on a train that won't stop for anything else seems like no big deal.  After thinking about it however I think you need to take into consideration how easy it is for a small child to get lost in a crowded train station.  I wouldn't worry about my child not making it to the stop or anything happening on a three minute ride, but I would worry about not being able to connect with her at the end of the ride.  You can't tell by looking at someone who is clean and safe and who isn't.  It would be nice if we could because then our kids would never be in danger.  The most unsafe people often look very normal and safe.

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