Something happened on our week away this year that freaked me out a little. I have always been aware of the many dangers that face our children today. I think most parents are more protective, more frightened maybe, than they were just when we were children.
Besides all the obvious dangers that you can teach your child about – traffic, crossing roads, climbing off windowsills (surely its not just mine that do this) – there is that hidden danger: stranger danger. How far do you go in explaining to your child that some people are mean and nasty and she mustn’t talk to people she doesn’t know. A conversation that goes something like this.
‘What, children too?’
‘Well no, you can talk to children. Your age. Not older children.’
‘So I can’t talk to seven year olds?’
‘You can, but not much older.’
‘How will I know how old they are if I don’t talk to them?’
We were in the bar of the hotel with another couple we had met. Our two were sprinting round the foyer with their two. They zoomed in and out of sight regularly, through the many other hotel guests and children having the exact same evening as us.
Then they are gone just a little longer. I start to worry. I stop listening to the conversation and start peering around the bar like a meerkat. The other mother we are with does the same.
And then they all come rushing round the corner and we can sit back with a sigh of relief. And my daughters first words were ‘we went in the lift with some boys and got stuck’.
Maybe I over react, maybe I am overly negative. But the many different panicked thoughts of what could have happened ran through my mind at that point. My daughter is six. Too young to know what could happen if she is left alone with the wrong random older boy. So what do we tell her?
After some more questioning we did establish that the lift was not stuck, just stopping at every floor as these kids were pressing every button. And we did explain that she was not meant to go in lifts without us. Or to go out of sight.
So, is it just me. Or is anyone else also permanently worrying when their little girl wants to go off and play and wondering at what age we need to expand her education, and at the same time maybe take away some of her childhood.