I am mothering in an age of protection. This is something I cannot escape, and I am surrounded by suggestions, guidelines, rules and laws regarding such protection. Always put baby on his back to sleep. Don’t put anything in the crib with him. Never turn your back while baby is on the changing table. Backward facing until age one and 20 lbs. Front facing in car seat until 30 lbs and 38″. Booster seat in the back seat until he gets his driver’s license. No bike, scooter, or push car without helmet. Locks on the cabinets, doors, toilet seat. Gates on stairs. Seriously, right? I have been conditioned to be fearful of the worst happening. I hear of horrible accidents to children and feel such empathy for the family. I know that it could easily be us. Thankfully, so far, it has not been.
I was a rebel without a cause. When we moved into our home 2 summers ago, I did not baby proof. Gasp! No gates, no locks on cabinets or toilets, and no bumpers on BIG brick fireplace hearths. (I did cover our outlets because Henry- at age five months-was already “experimenting” with conductors.) All and all, it was a great decision. My boys are fine. Henry learned to navigate stairs like a champ at 6 months and my house remained unscathed from screw holes and annoying locks! There have been hard lessons learned (picture illustrates such event. Toddler vs. brick), but I would like to say they will be better for it.
I do acknowledge the need for child protection. Our children do ride safer in cars and on their bikes than we did. But on the other hand, this uber-protection extends beyond just physical protection from bodily harm. I fear my boys may not have similar personal experiences that I once had as a kid. For example I was allowed to play outside with my friends until sundown. The rule was you had to be in for lunch and dinner. At the end of the day you had to be in when the street lights came on. We were distinctly aware that no one should have to come looking for you and it was up to you to pay close attention. There were consequences if you were late and we knew it! I sincerely believe it help build independence and responsibility that has served me well in my life. Will my kids have that? We are lucky to live in fantastic niche in the world that may afford our kids this luxury. However, will I be able to let my boys “go” on their own. I hope so. But there is this little quiet voice that repeats, “What if?” What if?