I hate starting the week with this kind of topic, so I’m going to ease into it by asking a question that was flowing through my head in the wee hours this morning–3am to be exact. I woke up to the sounds of Elizabeth cooing and grunting in her crib, before she fell back to sleep, but it left me up and unable to get back to sleep.
If you have a child in kindergarten do you say she is:
a) a kinder-GART-ner
I’m struggling with that one.
Here’s the other thing I’m thinking about. Unfortunately, more serious. Fortunately, not keeping me up in the middle of the night.
Last week, Emma and Mary were playing in the driveway in front of the ‘big house’ here on the farm. And they came inside to tell me that a man in a black truck pulled over, waved at them and took their picture. They thought nothing of it and weren’t at all thrown by the event.
Now, I’m pretty sure it was all innocent. To be honest, without sounding "showy-offy", my grandparents’ house is photo-worthy and they were right in front of it, so the picture may not have been of them. And, to be honest, my kids are pretty good looking, so…..kidding. well no, but yes.
Anyway, this brings up the topic with me of how do you instill in your children a sense of caution without creating a sense of fear? I want them to feel safe and free, especially when they are home. But above all I want them to be safe and protected. I want them to know you can’t get in the car with a stranger and you really shouldn’t even go near the car of a stranger. But I also don’t want them bolting and screaming at the first sight of someone they don’t know. I want them to be brave and strong and polite and safe.
Sometimes I think they could use a little dose of fear. But I’m not exactly sure how to balance that with creating a sense of security.
There have also been times when I’ve gone to a store and they’ve been tired and begged to just stay in the car and play while I run in to get what I need. I can remember doing that all the time when I was younger–playing "Charlie’s Angels" in the back of our orange VW bus with my best friend, Kelly, while mom got groceries. But you can’t do that today. I try to simply tell them "it’s not safe" when they ask to just wait in the car, without getting in to all the details–a bad person might come and snatch you from the car and take you away from mommy and do bad things to you and I’d never see you again. No. I’m not going to tell them that and leave them bug-eyed, speechless and attached to my pant leg for the rest of their young lives.
So, what do you do? How do you balance caution and security, freedom and boundaries? Is there a balance? Is it still possible to have both of these things in today’s world? Is there such a thing as a healthy dose of fear?
For now, I haven’t changed the way I do anything. I’m just doubly sure that my hundred-pound yellow labrador retriever who barks like an attack dog at any hint of a visitor is always on-duty when the girls are outside. Thankfully, when I say, "go find the girls!" he noses open the handle on the front screen door and wanders out to find them.
But I’m not sure all of us are ready to invest in a yellow lab like mine. So what do you do? I can’t seem to find the chapter on this in the parenting manual they give us after our children are born….