Monday, May 05, 2008

Be Alert Not Alarmed

I've never been a super protective parent. I let mine potch in mud, climb trees, mountain bike on building sites. They fought with sticks and plonked in puddles, ate fruit off the vine unwashed and they did OK . . .but we have a simple rule . . let me know where you're going, who you're with and what time you'll be home . . . surprisingly they do. Even ClareBear on her way to Las Vegas, checks in once or twice a week and DrummerBoy has finally got into the habit of messaging me if he's not coming home (that's been a long road, I can tell you).

I've never been an annoyingly over-protective parent the 'turn up at school to make sure you have your lunch' type. In fact I actually forgot to pick my son up on his first day of school which finished at 12:00 . . his Kindy teacher had to buy him a pie while I sped from work to pick him up! But I've always warned my kids that it 'can happen'to you.' I've made them aware of stranger danger, traffic rules and kept a close eye on them when they were young, cautioned them as new drivers and tried so, so, hard to keep them safe.

Over the weekend 6 young people in Sydney lost their lives by stealing a boat and joy riding on the harbour. Well lubricated after a night in lovely Balmain, they stole a boat and smashed the bejeezus out of it by running into a trawler. I don't know if you've ever seen a trawler but they have massive steel weights on either side to ballast the nets and are the equivalent of a four wheel drive against a mini on the water. Six now dead, two smashed up in hospital and two families standing vigil at their children's bedside their ages ranged from 18 to 30. It's the same mentality held by younglings when taking risks in cars. Just around the corner . .nobody will know . . .I'll ride my bike or skateboard home after a big night of inebriation. . .or by their elders . ."I'll take the back road after a skinful."

Death has been a frequent visitor to my life. My mother killed when my father swerved to avoid . . wait for it . . a murderer escaping from dumping the body and causing an accident as an alibi . . random . . I don't think so . .he wasn't to know that due to a bout of TB during her early nursing years, she had only one lobe of lung. Or my husband waking up one morning and just 'not feeling well' then dropping dead in the hallway, or my Aunt being admitted to hospital for a blood clot in her leg and never coming home . . or the Henning family losing a daughter, son and nephew because a corner at Bulladelah was taken too fast by a driver too young and a car full of siblings, happy holiday revellers (sober I might add) . . . lost all their lives. Two families lost all their children. Or a friend of Adam's killing a wayward pedestrian on a dark night . . not his fault but the guilt will live with him forever . . . I'm not sure of my point but 'it can happen to you' sometimes you can't stop it, sometimes it is just a weird accident but for goodness sake, be careful . . . be in well lit places, don't tempt fate. Drive safely and soberly. You can't wrap your kids in cotton wool and expect them to mature into decent adults but parenting is hard, one of the hardest yet most fulfilling things I've ever done.

Teach your children to have healthy level of mistrust but not paranoia and encourage them not to become complacent . . learn a martial art that will give you the value of defense . . .Girls needn't worry because a handbag will do the trick! It's a hazardous world out there.

Mood . . .dispairing . . being a parent is bloody hard. Nobody gave me the rule book. Can I take my "L" plates off now?


Anonymous said...

Does a Mother ever take her L Plates off? Little ones are so trusting and bigger kids think they're invincible. Sad week re the boating accident. That's the spot we always spend New Year's Eve!

Thriftcriminal said...

It's true, being a parent is one of the hardest jobs, and myself and PTCC are only at the early stages of it. We'll be trying to follow a similar principle, I like your title as a consequence.

Melissa said...

I say a little prayer every time I watch C get on the bus, or leave I at school ... when I became a parent, I didn't realize how fearful those two things would leave me, but I try to do that balance you write of ... let 'em be kids, but be careful at the same time. How sad about the young people and the boat accident. :( A lot has made me thankful for the "normal" stuff lately, especially with my little family!

Paddy Bloggit said...

I don't know how parents do it ... I couldn't.

Raising children in today's world is no easy task.

Anonymous said...

Sweet Jesus that is truly awful Baino, all the losses you have suffered. I would not have been able to handle that, you are amazing.

I think you have the right idea but, I reckon I will be one of those frantic parents who worry all the time but I wouldn’t wrapped them up in cotton wool, I would just sit at home panicking neurotically and then when they return I would try to act like I didn’t even know they had left. I’d be cool. God love the families of those people.


Nick said...

I've read about the boat accident - absolutely tragic and totally avoidable. I don't have children but it must be nerve-racking finding that balance between over-protectiveness and trust, and worrying that wherever they are they might be doing something reckless. It's a difficult business turning careless youngsters into safety-conscious adults.

You've certainly had more than your fair share of tragedy, Baino, but at least you've managed to deal with it without going under. I remember when I was an irresponsible teenager driving my girlfriend home when I was totally drunk. It horrifies me now to think she might have died and I would have had to live with the remorse for the rest of my life.

Quickroute said...

Horrible accident. Parenting is in the plans for the future, but just having too much fun right now!

Baino said...

Anony: Never although I might have graduated to my red 'P's. I often tell my kids that I'm new at this game as well despite them being in their 20's. Each phase brings new challenges.

Thrifty: The title is actually stolen from the previous government's anti terrorist campaign encouraging people to be aware of odd behavious, abandoned packages etc. As for parenting, what you do now is VERY important . . show me the 7 year old and I'll show you the man . . .

Melissa: Certainly is a balancing act. I'm not neurotic about it but I've lived long enough to know that shit does and can happen. Big as they are, not a day goes by where I don't wonder where they are . .what they're doing or who they're with. Especially Clare who is so far away!

Paddy: You raise a school full of them! Your contribution is bigger than you think!

Nonny: Yep I try not to let them know how concerned I am. Difficult at times, at least in the day of mobile phones a msg is all I need!

Nick: I'm sure there have been shenanigins. I was called by the police once threatening to impound my car after a much younger DrummerBoy was caught doing burn outs in some cul de sac. The involvement of the police sobered him up a little but God knows what they get up to when I'm out of view!

Quicky: And so you should. Kids aren't like puppies, they're a commitment for life! Big decision so make hay an all that! Ithey're also expensive so make a little money too!)

Grannymar said...

I too read about that tragedy on the water. What a waste of life.

Mothers never cut that cord! Parenting is difficult and there is no training, you get there with blood sweat and tears, not forgetting all the lack of sleep! Never mind a hug, a smile and to see your children get on in life and become independent makes it all worthwhile.
The hardest thing that parents have to do is allow their children make mistakes

Paddy, if and when you have children, you would find a way just like we did and do!

Kath Lockett said...

Oh Baino, you have had far more than your share of tragedy in your life and yet you were/are also generous and sensible enough to let your kids be kids/teens/young adults and have a few experiences.

If I can cope with it all one tenth as well as you (Sapphire is only 8, turning 9 on 23rd of May), I'll be happy.

Baino said...

Grannymar: It was such a preventable accident, I was surprised to note that the oldest was a 30 year old who now has a motherless baby! What a challenge for that kid coming up.

Kath: I think I've held it together but as I've said before, being a single parent makes me jury, judge and jailer so in many ways, it's been easier . . I am the fat controller!

Thriftcriminal said...

Well I spent the first half of my long weekend caring for a sick 6 year old, then the second half telling her to SLOW DOWN as she belted around the place because she was feeling better. She's a great girl, but one day she will have to learn to relax and not do everything at warp speed.