A few days ago I was talking to friend and I realised how drastically different my children’s childhoods are to my own. And I wonder how much of it is due to my own paranoia and how much is attributed to this day and age.
As a child in primary school, our house was at least half a kilometer away the school, and we would walk home everyday. We then would back to the mosque for madressa, and afterwards walk home again. Our parents had no issues with this. Sometimes we walked with friends in groups, and at other times, we walked alone.
This is hugely contrasted to my reaction, to what happened a few weeks ago. Little Man usually attends art lessons after school once a week, and comes home with a lift-club. On this particular day, he decided he was too tired and didn’t want to attend the lesson, but he didn’t want to wait to get home either. So, he lifted his backpack onto his back, and started walking home. Luckily our home isn’t far from the school. I happened to be outside with Little Miss, as we were helping an elderly neighbour with some basic chores, and were just outside our front door when I noticed him walking from a distance and my heart immediately began palpitating, hoping it wasn’t him, yet certain that it was him! He was on the other side of the road, and its a very busy road. Lots of trucks, reckless taxis, and a high volume of traffic. I knew if I screamed he wouldn’t hear me, and I couldn’t run towards him either as Little Miss was with me. So all I could do was stand open-mouthed and watch… I was horrified and terrified!
He walked up to the traffic light, and waited for the green light, and began walking across. The road is four lanes wide, and he’s little legs just weren’t fast enough to cross, so he stood hesitantly on the centre island in middle of the road, after crossing 2 lanes, when the lights changed and traffic started moving again. A few seconds later, he managed to safely cross the remaining 2 lanes, and walked through the communal park area that’s just in front of our housing complex, and walked up to the gates looking very proud of himself!
I was just so relieved, but instead of saying so, my first reaction was ‘What do you think you’re doing? Why would you ever think its ok to walk home? Do you know what could’ve happened to you?’
It was only much much later in the evening, that I remembered to say to him, that I was very proud of the way he conducted himself, and how he wasn’t reckless, and followed the rules of the road properly. I really don’t think he appreciated it very much at that moment, as a result of my earlier reaction.
Why did I freak out so much, I still don’t know! But it has led me to question what has changed our parenting mindsets so drastically from one generation to the next? Will my over-reaction leave my child scarred, have I dented his enthusiasm to try new things, did it leave him feeling ashamed, will it affect his self-confidence at a later stage? Do we analyse everything too much, looking for deeper meaning, more in depth explanations? Why do we ‘cocoon’ our children so much? Yes, life has changed over the last decade or 2 but do we as parents in this time and age over-react and exaggerate everything? I still don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I have realised that the flood of information so easily and readily available at the click of a button, has resulted in parents being afraid. About pretty much everything…from breastfeeding, to pregnancy exercises, to when and how we introduce solids, to the amount of emphasis we place on schooling… Is this good or bad, I have no idea. I guess we’ll only get the answers to these questions once our children are adults… In the interim however, Little Man is perfectly fine, no dents in confidence levels, or willingness to try new things. As much as we want to protect our children, we have to allow to experience life, its the only way they will learn!
I guess I need to ease up a little, just a little!