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Mom’s Musings on Safety

On a recent, warm afternoon my father came to our new place to visit my daughters. The three of them went out the back door and the girls put on their rollerblades. I went outside and watched as the girls twirled and swiftly glided backwards for Pop. While this fancy display of footwork played out before him, my father’s head turned left then right, his eyes darting back and forth looking for cars. A few cars approached from a great distance, with Pop stopping the skaters as soon as he saw them.

Knowing my Dad, I was aware as I watched him that he was looking around more for hazards than he was noticing what the girls were doing. I wish I could say I was a bit more relaxed than he, but I may be worse. No doubt influenced by my upbringing and my own close calls, I am overzealous about safety and am known to point out dangerous could be’s and what if’s to the girls or relate a true story I heard about, which I am hopeful will prevent them from meeting the same fate.  Still, it bothered me watching my Dad, as I know times like these with the girls and pop are getting fewer as the girls close in on adolescence.

As the kids have grown, I’ve had a steady evolution of the stages of parental fear. With babies I worried about choking, suffocation, the child falling from my arms or toppling from her crib. When they were toddlers I worried they would wander off into the arms of a maniac or dart into traffic, and so I kept a hand on them at all times in public. During those days I wondered why we have only one pair of hands and eyes.

As the girls neared school age and eventually spent several hours a day away from me, I found the Megan’s Law Web site and scoured the profiles of pedophiles in our county, showing the girls several handsome men and even a pretty woman, all registered sex offenders. I drilled the girls with scenarios and asked what they would do if any one of a number of events threatened to upend the predictable life they know. When we moved not long ago, I had a fire drill and taught the girls how to escape from the windows and talked about different ways to exit the house if other rooms were inaccessible. I told them I was trying to show them some different options because you never know until something happens how it will play out. 

This is the truth. For all the worrying, preparing and training we do as parents, you cannot know what the future holds—or doesn’t. We can only try our best to give them the skills they need to handle things when—or if—the time comes. And in the meantime, try not to worry too much.

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