Soooo… On Wednesday we were all brave and stuff and decided to take our 2yo and our 8 day old to a birthday braai. We were one of three sets of parents and our kids were both the oldest and youngest children there.
Now, if you actually know me, you’d know that our eldest is a complete blooming baboon. She takes after her father, or this is what I tell myself. One of her favourite games is “the balance beam” – pretty much any wall she can climb and then run/walk/shuffle/skip along. She’s been doing this for what feels like years (in how much it ages me), but is probably anywhere between 6 and 18 months. I honestly can’t keep track of when she starts a new life threatening activity, but I know she started climbing just after she started walking.
So, this little extroverted (God save us), acrobatic, assertive monkey child was absolutely ecstatic to find a friend her own age at the get-together. Her being 29 months and him 24. The little friend seemed to enjoy having a playmate, but was definitely less assertive and outgoing, so I spent a lot of time running interference to keep our monkey from overwhelming the other child. So much time, in between also breastfeeding and changing a newborn, that I missed one of the biggest ironies ever.
You see, we had arrived at the exact same time as the family with the other toddler. So we were witnesses to Mom stepping out of the backseat, child in arms. No car seat in sight. (Yes, I checked) I was about to give a rather unwelcome lecture to guests at our children’s godparents’ home, when my son decided he needed boobie right freaking now and all else was erased from my mind.
Later that evening, I watched these same parents hover nervously around their son, for fear he might fall from a chair, or bump into a table, or (dear mercy, save us) join our daughter on the patio wall. I’ve heard of helicopter parents, but this shit was next level. I’m honestly surprised the kid can walk. Our daughter was actively discouraged from doing regular toddler crap, for fear the mere sight of it might inflict injury upon the other child.
Obviously, such a very different parenting style left an impression on us and we spent a large part of the next day discussing it. (Disclaimer: I’m human, I do judge. BUT I try real bloody hard to take lessons from people who do stuff differently from me and I actively try not to crucify parents for whatever parenting style they choose) We try to encourage our daughter to be active and discover how her body works. We do this as we believe she’ll do it behind our backs anyway. If we can guide her and encourage her, she’ll be safer when we’re not around, because of what we have been able to teach her or help her discover. That said, we’re blind terrified half the time, so we understand that other parents might discourage it.
And then the irony hit. Remember how they arrived? And on this, my judgement is shameless (neither money, nor education factors here) – no safety precautions taken in the car. These parents fear their child will fall and graze his knee or hit his head or, at worst, break his arm, doing toddler stuff. And I do mean fear. His mother literally blanched when he walked outside. But somehow they do not fear that he might DIE in a minor collision, because he isn’t properly secured.
Please, please explain this double standard to me.