January 19, 2010

Protect Your Kids From Real Dangers

I spend a lot of time thinking about safety.  Especially when I'm by myself, but with my husband as well, I remain consciously aware of everything around me: animals, people, their direction of travel, the security of the path I'm walking.  As I approach my car, I look underneath it and as I get in, I take a peek in the backseat.  When I go into a public bathroom, I make sure no one follows. 

This is not paranoia (paranoia is when I check for baddies in every closet and under the bed upon arriving home).  These small precautions give me a step up on possible dangers.  If a situation were to occur, I would have a few more precious seconds to react; plus, being so obviously aware of my surroundings keeps me from looking like an easy target. 

As kids get old enough to learn about being safe out in the world on their own, parents can begin to teach them.  But until that time it is a parent's responsibility to keep their children safe.  And that brings me to the incident I witnessed over the weekend. 

I went into the restroom at a fast food restaurant and found two of the stalls occupied.  The door of the third stall stood ajar, and there was no one else waiting so I walked over and stepped into the stall.  And that's when I realized a small child, under 5, was standing inside with her pants down. 

I said "sorry" and leapt out as quickly as possible, pulling the door of the stall together as I went.  A moment later another stall became available and I ducked in, resolving to remain inside until the poor girl had left the bathroom.  As I waited in the stall, the girl's mother came into the bathroom, asking if she were done yet.  When the girl emerged, the mother proceeded to spend a solid two minutes walking her daughter through a meticulous hand-washing procedure, including singing while washing (to ensure enough scrubbing), using the paper towel to turn off the faucet, and opening the bathroom door with an elbow. 

I have to say it:  Give me a break!  Ok, teaching proper hand-washing is very important and shouldn't be ignored.  But sending a child into the bathroom alone when they don't know how to latch the door is truly atrocious parenting.  Imagine what could have happened to that girl if I had been a different person. 

For the sake of your children, err of the side of caution.  Don't get so sucked into details and protocols that you miss the forest because the trees are in the way. 

And if your kids protest?  They want to do it "all by themselves?"  Too bad.  I take a tough line on this issue; when it comes to safety, compromise can mean, "Ok, sweetie, I'll wait outside the stall."  Or "You have to hold my hand now, but you can let go once we're across the street."  Take a firm stand.  Your kids know that protection comes from love.   And if they occasionally feel a little over-protected, that's better than thinking you don't care. 

No comments:

Post a Comment