Safety

When parents see their kids walk out the door in the morning, they are focused on the practical stuff of the day – Do they have lunch money, are they dressed for the weather and what’s the plan after school?  Underlying these thoughts is the primary one – safety.

Safety with little kids is a lot easier to deal with than older kids.  As the infant moves toward greater independence the precious knick-knack from Aunt Jen moves off the lower shelf to the top of the chest of drawers. Electric cords are tucked under the sofa away from gnawing teeth, and the buttons and dials of the stereo are elevated to a greater height where a random twist won’t destroy the speakers.  Fish tanks also need confinement.  We don’t want the fish traumatized by having a seven month-old join them for a swim.

Kids get a little older and mobile and more safety education begins.  Remember that fire truck you saw go by the house?  Well suppose your eighteen month-old decided it would be fun to return to the scene of the most recent fire without consultation.  He is well equipped with a back-pack of stuffed toys, but the hike downtown to the fire station shouldn’t have to include a 9-1-1 call on a lost child!

Bike riding also creates enough of its own hazards.  Getting the balancing act down is an accomplishment ranking right up there with walking. Why worry about braking?  The end of the block serves as a good limit if the corner can be turned at high speed.  If it doesn’t work, hopefully the worst outcome is a skinned leg.

Going off to school is risky in a different kind of way.  There are physical risks, but sometimes the emotional ones for a kindergartner are more front-and-center. Adjusting to the little boy on the next rug pushing, or the girl with the long blonde hair saying, “Your stupid !” takes some training in ignoring and assertion of  your own rights.  Because someone says you’re dumb doesn’t make it so.

Increasing maturity brings increased risk; that’s how insurance companies make and lose money.  Just ask any parent who has a kid driving.  Even with an old car it’s at least a $60 a month bump – Oops, I didn’t say bump.

Once putting the car into gear and acceleration and braking are figured out, there’s a better understanding of how important stopping is. Paying attention is always being tested.  In this climate, marginal road conditions lead to an occasional ditch or displaced mailbox.

It is the role of the parent to worry; hopefully not all the time.  Teaching our kids to be safe remains one of the more difficult tasks of parenting.  We all hope the consequences of various types of learning experiences are not too dear.  We do after all want to see what they will do when their children take off down the road on their two wheelers.

Author: Doug Lewandowski

I have walked a varied path. I was a Christian Brother, an English teacher/counselor and Licensed Psychologist. I have a twice monthly column in the Duluth News Tribune and have had a story published in the Nemadji Review and placed third in this year’s Jade Ring contest of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. I was a commentator for KCRB, Minnesota Public Radio in the 90s. I transplanted to Duluth to be closer to grandchildren.

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