Thursday, 14 October 2010

In Which I Admit I Am A Cowardly Custard

My mother has always been considered...how can I put this politely...somewhat overcautious when it comes to health and safety by my father, my brother and myself. She was always the one that would freak out if we tried to climb a wall, or go too close to the edge of a high building (her own vertigo didn't help). I have always been very conscious of the fact that I should try and avoid being too cautious with my own children.

Turns out it's not actually that easy.

Maybe it's conditioning, maybe it's some kind of deep maternal instinct, but I have started to see the worst in all possible situations. Most of the time I can keep these fears under control. The only time I can't is when it comes to road safety. We have had a very close shave with each of our children - occasions that left me literally shaking and sobbing with the thought of what could have happened, had luck not been on our side. We live on quite a busy road, in quite an urban area, so trips to and from pretty much anywhere involve negotiating road safety. I am slowly starting to trust DD1, who at 5 and a half at least knows not to run out into the road, and allow her a little more freedom. I still insist on her holding my hand most of the time when we cross, however. I do still insist on DD2 (2 years younger than her sister) holding my hand whenever we are walking by a road.

I bumped into an acquaintance the other day, who also has two daughters, the eldest of is not quite yet 3. We walked through the park, with said eldest daughter on a little self-propelled car, while my friend pushed her youngest in a pushchair. At the edge of the park there are some large, wrough-iron gates, which lead straight onto a road. This road is not particularly busy, but there is a wall on the corner that makes it difficult to see any oncoming traffic. The gates were open, and the little girl (let's call her I) was merrily pushing her way towards them, showing no sign of stopping. Her mother did not bat an eyelid when she proceeded through the gates into the road. It was only when we saw the lorry approaching that she shouted out to her daughter that she should have been more careful and looked where she was going. Thankfully, the lorry was driving slowly and stopped, however, I could not help thinking that things could have been different.

I was obviously somewhat surprised at the mother's calm reaction, given my own fears. I don't want to judge her - the example is merely an illustration of the point that children and road safety probably don't mix very well. I am just as guilty of what others might consider horrible lapses of judgement. However, I am curious as to what everyone else's experiences are on this.

Do you let your children cross the road by themselves? At what ages did you start, and how did you make sure they knew about road safety?

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