Who is responsible for keeping your kids safe? To me, it isn't even a question. I am responsible for the safety of my kids as much as I can be. When I am at the store, at the pool, at the library, or walking down the street, I am responsible for what happens to my kids.
I have been really upset recently by weird rules in public places and blog posts from concerned parents that I read. It seems like the world has decided that parents are no longer capable of determining what is safe for their kids are not, so we need lots of rules telling us what we can and can't allow our kids to do.
Case in point. The kids and I go to the pool and they like to wear goggles. Isaac's old goggles broke, so I let him pick new ones that happened to cover his nose, which I didn't even question. I remember having fun with similar goggles when I was a kid and they hate getting water up their noses so it made sense.
Until he put them on in the pool. Then the 15-year-old lifeguard informs me they are not allowed in the pool.
So I do a little research on why that might be. Because to me, that seems bat-shit insane. Apparently, I am not the only befuddled parent. Go ahead and Google "no swim masks in pools." There are many reasons why they are not allowed but two seemed to be most prevalent: the glass in scuba type masks can break and cut people's feet (these weren't glass) and it is possible that someone could "dry drown." All valid concerns, I get it. But because of another pool rule that states I can't be more than four feet from my children six and under, I think he is safe.
What bothers me is, I should be the one to make the choice.
And that is what makes me mad about all the paternalistic rules out there. I should be able to choose how best to protect my kids. I should be allowed to choose where and when my kids wear bike helmets. I should be able to choose how my kids travel in their car seats, I should be able to decide what my kids can safely play with in a pool.
Give me the information, and then let me decide.
I want to protect my kids from what I can protect them from. But there is also a point where the fear overtakes the reality of something bad happening. Unfortunately you can't always protect your kids from bad things happening, even if you put them in a plastic bubble.
When Isaac was two, we never really put him in a stroller. He liked to walk and he really enjoyed the freedom. He liked to stomp in puddles and sit on every stoop we came across. One evening we came out of the library and Isaac went tearing down the wheelchair ramp. Michael and I let him go ahead, until we realized he wasn't slowing down and he was heading straight toward a busy road where a car was speedily approaching. It was one of those slow motion moments, where you can see what is going to happen and you can't stop it. I was six months pregnant, but ran faster than I had before I was knocked up. Michael tried to cut him off and a Good Samaritan coming the other way reached out for him as well. I fell trying to catch him and Michael grabbed him up in his arms just before he stepped over the curb.
That was one of my most terrifying moments as a parent. And I could have prevented it. I could have kept him in a stroller and not let him walk on his own. But we didn't. From then on we just kept a closer eye on him and made sure one of us was always ahead and one of us was always behind when he was in that reckless stage.
I was warned by other well-meaning parents, that I should use a leash, or keep him in the stroller. But he loved walking around and I didn't want to take that from him. What happened on that busy street was an anomaly; I knew the risks didn't outweigh the benefits of the self-confidence he built be being given the freedom to explore on his own within safe parameters that we had set up.
Things happen. Things that you can't predict and sometimes can't stop. But should you let the fear get the better of you. What will happen to kids if we don't let them experience life the way we did? Without bike helmets, without baby gates, and without constant fear that the worst was always lurking around the next corner.
When are we going to take back our kids lives and parent them the way we want to?
Jessica is a SAHM of 3 who spends her time chasing kids and blogs at longestdays.com about her parenting adventures.
Photo Credit: ferronj.
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