Monday, February 16, 2009

let's be careful out there

I’m a little worried that my danger alert system malfunctioned without my knowledge. I have one of those built in, right? Doesn’t that equipment come standard in a mom? I never got the manual, and it’s freaking me out lately.

The other day, my kids ran off to the boy’s room – the one with the bunk beds - with arms full of couch cushions. I asked: “Do I want to know what you’re doing?” They were pretty sure that I did not. I knew in my heart that they were right, and there were no sirens or flashing lights alerting me to danger, so it must have been a solid plan.

Later that night, my kids were talking about what a great mom I am, because when that other mean mom at the park wouldn’t even let her kid clamber up the slide, I not only let them, but I was also cool with them jumping down from the top.

I rely on my assumed warning system, because I believe that kids should climb trees and scramble on rocks, and I believe that kids should run more than walk, even on the black top, especially when they only have a 20 minute break during the school day.

We’ve been lucky enough to have relatively few accidents in our family history, especially if you don’t count that one time when a certain five year old boy fractured his tibia when he collided with the air in a bouncy house.

But that’s the thing, he never broke his leg falling from a tree limb, or running at school, or slipping between rocks on the jetty, or landing from a launch off of his top bunk. It was a fluke, an accident, one of those things that just happen, whether or not you’re being careful.

There’s a fine line between allowing your children to take risks and casually risking their safety. I need to rely on my internal danger-alert warning system for those times when my mouth should say no even though my spirit says yes. But I think mine’s broken.

I need to believe that if my kids are careful and I’m paying attention, they will be okay, even when they take risks.

But sometimes it’s not okay. Sometimes shit happens. Accidents happen. Sometimes accidents happen, even if you’re being really careful and safe. Even if your mom is watching.

Where is the line? How much freedom can parents and schools allow without being lackadaisical?

Today I’m scheduled to renew my CPR and 1st Aid training. I always feel a heightened sense of alert when I take these classes, like I should keep my cape and mask handy for the certain tragedy that lurks around every corner. Have you noticed that the recommendations for CPR keep changing? I haven’t done it in a few years, but my husband told me that in his recent training, he was told that you’re not supposed to worry about the breathing so much anymore, just the chest compressions. Curious. I’ve always clung to the 15:2 pattern in my head during imaginary rescue situations. I guess the bottom line is that we should just do the best we can, be aware, be careful.

I should have bought the warranty on that danger alert system, though.


Rita.the.bookworm said...

I don't know, everyone does have their own line though. The most reckless set of parents I've seen had a Children's Hospital ER doctor as the father. I thought, well, hell, if he's not worried about it, then I shouldn't be. But, then once while we were at their house for dinner, one kid suffered a concussion from jumping up and down on a chair and the giant clock hanging on the wall fell down on his head. Then another kid came to school with a broken leg about a month later. And, then another time we were together a third kid (they had four, by the way) fell and gashed his arm up and had to be taken to Dad's work for stitches. So... I dunno.

But, two of my three kids needed stitches recently. One fell off the kitchen chair and bit her lip and another was playing boot hockey (a questionable winter sport if ever there was one) and gashed his chin on the ice.

I will say that I wouldn't let them jump from bunk beds because their rooms are so small, it'd be impossible to not hit some piece of furniture on the way down. And, I wouldn't let them walk up the slide or jump from the top because I am nuts about proper use of public playground equipment (and modeling proper use for smaller children). It's not that I don't trust MY kids to be careful, I don't trust other kids.

But, everyone's got their own line of what's acceptable. In my parenting, I tend to utilize the concept of the cop. I imagine him wearing aviator sunglasses, bomber jacket and a Texas Ranger hat, asking me how this (whatever) happened. If I sound like a negligent idiot to myself while explaining the incident to scary, imaginary cop, then I don't let the kids do it. If I can explain it to scary, imaginary cop and not sound like my children should be immediately placed in foster care, then I let them fly free.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Good post, Jacquie. It has me thinking, as does Rita's comment.

I try to hold my tounge and not scream out, "No, don't do that, it's too dangerous!" -- unless really necessary, of course. Luckily the pediatrician we go to looks at my kids bruised arms and skinned knees and says, "Well, good, you guys look good and healthy. Those bumps and bruises mean you're getting some exercise."

And it's true. Skateboarding and biking and the monkey bar tricks are going to cause some goose egges and ankle scrapes, but it's worth it. I mean what's the alternative? Sitting in front of the TV or DS instead? Then your kids are likely to among the growing number of obese kids in America, in danger of diabetes and all sorts of chronic diseases, not just acute tibia-splitting pain.

I salute you for letting the kids take their knocks, Jacquie. We all did when we were young, and they are (or should be) as tough as we were!


Me, You, or Ellie said...

You're a rocking mom, Jacquie, don't you doubt it for a nano-second. I *am* surprised your kids -- especially your girl -- haven't had more incidents, though. NOT because you're lax, but because she's Ms. Calamity, always inches away from sure disaster.

Oh, and thanks again for agreeing to wait to take your boy to the emergency room for his broken leg until after the UConn game on tv. ;)


Melissaand3boys said...

For me it's a constant battle with my cautious and control-freaky inner self and what I in my heart believe is right for my kids.

I do let my kids scooter, skateboard, and bike on ramps (even though it makes me a little sick to watch it) but they must wear helmets.

I also want them to wear helmets when ice skating and when we go for snowboard lessons, but the last couple of times ice skating I've forgotten the helmets.

I used to let my kids run across the room and hurl themselves onto their beanbag chairs, but I wouldn't let them make a kid sandwich with a kid in between 2 beanbag chairs. They can't do jump on the beanbags now because the floors in our basement are cement and a miss would be very bad.

I don't allow them to jump on the beds or from bed to bed.

I also let my kids climb up the slides, as long as no one was waiting to go down.

I'm anti backyard trampolines, but I would let them jump on one if they followed certain rules.

I make Nick wear a chest protector when playing baseball.

I also surprise myself sometimes about what I want them to try. Nick fell on the ice a few weeks ago and wouldn't go back out. I tried to encourage him to try again, but he wouldn't. I don't want them to let their fears get in the way of things like I too often do. It's important to realize that you are going to fall down sometimes and it's okay. Just don't hit your head.

XUP said...

Have you ever read Jean Liedloff's "Continuum Concept"? She's studied some culture in South American and has written this book as something of a child-rearing manual using this tribe as an excellent example of how to raise children. One of the things this tribe does is let its kids run, jump, climb and whatever from as soon as they're mobile, without any restrictions. In their model kids have their own warning system which will save them from accidents. In our model, kids come to rely on parents to save them from day one and lose their inborn warning system quickly. It's a very interesting (and short) read -- I think you'd like it

Lola said...

I guess I'm down the middle or at least it's my middle. I let my son ride dirt bikes, snow mobiles, four-wheelers and ski, but I make him wear chest protectors, helmets and sunscreen.

I don't know the answer, but I want him to live life like we did and have fun.