Thirteen driveways, and 4 roads to cross with T every walk to or from school, that’s a lot of checking and reminding!
We started with ‘stop!’, moved on to ‘stop, and check’ soon realizing we needed to spell it out we now seem to have the reminder ‘stop, look in (to the driveway or road), look out (out into the big road), (verbal reminders to watch for any moving cars, and to listen for any cars) now go over’. Which reminds T of the ‘hokey cokey’ and makes her smile!
It is surprising just how many subtleties there are to try and teach when your child just doesn’t seem to approach the inherent dangers of roads instinctively carefully – cars usually indicate with their indicators if they want to leave the big road and come into a road or driveway but quite often they don’t; cars will slow down before they manoeuver, but its difficult to be exact about how much, what it might look like, or what it would look like if they slowed down but for a different reason; cars can be moving in a driveway for all sorts of reasons, sometimes it’s ok to go, other times it’s not; when we need to stop exactly where should our feet be? what distance from the curb?, and our hands and arms?, and the scooter? it’s great to wait for a complete gap on the big road but sometimes there is enough time even though we can see a car coming, it all depends on the speed and distance; and what about those times when a car stops and waves you across, sometimes that’s fine, other times you can’t see enough of what else is happening the other side of the road so it’s not a great plan. (and of course whilst trying to find a way to teach this we are inevitably running late to get to school or we are coaxing a very tired and reluctant walker to keep going so we can get home for tea!)
I’m coming to the conclusion that the most pressing thing to teach is that cars (and lorries, tractors, bikes, motorbikes etc etc!) that are moving are dangerous, they are bigger than us, strong and fast and if they bump into us we would get very very badly hurt. I’m hoping that grasping that might mean that the other things at least seem worth trying to figure out & learn.
On a seemingly unrelated note B & A have had conversations with groups of friends this week about things people have been talking about at school – you know the kind of things, say a certain phrase looking into a mirror and you’ll see ghosts, having a go at weegie boards and the like. Needless to say A, who is often very anxious anyway, has been needing a lot of reassurance, especially getting him into the bathroom past the mirror.
It is a timely reminder that as well as recognizing the responsibility of teaching road safety, there is a lot I want to be able to explain to my kids about staying safe spiritually, staying close to Jesus – I want to begin to give them tools and strategies to help them to work out where to stand, when to stop and not go further, and when to go ahead. There are so many unique circumstances and contexts they will face in the coming years – in conversation with their friends, hanging out with their peers, books they will read, TV and films they may want to watch, activities they will be invited to join in. Like road safety there are so many nuances it is very difficult to teach ‘a rule’ that will always work, and there are so many ‘rules’ implied in our culture that get appropriated without us noticing too – some really not helpful – who knew that the day of her 12th birthday B would assume she could sit & watch every 12 rated DVD we own – and then move on to Netflix! Not a rule we would want to have taught her – so some unraveling to do, not all 12’s are suitable, but I’m 12, yes I know but it’s a guide not an instruction – turning 12 doesn’t mean you now have to watch every 12 between now and your 15th birthday when you reach the next rating’s age!! Having worked hard at reasoning that as her parents we still had a say even if the film is a 12, we now have the ongoing task of talking through each potential film choice to work out together if its a yes or a no – and perhaps most importantly, why.
A’s anxiety this week has spurred me on to at least begin to set some foundations for dealing with these kind of choices, and the emotions that come from even being there when they are discussed. For him I feel it’s most important to start from the acceptance and understanding that Jesus is bigger and stronger than anything he will ever hear talked about, than anything he’s scared by – and that as a Christian, a friend of Jesus who trusts Him and lets Him be in charge, he is held in God’s safe strong hands. Staying close to Jesus is a safe place.
For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:3)
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 Jn 4:4)
The other part of that foundation though will be to gently explain that there are things (and powers) in the world around us that will distract us from God, frighten us, or worse lead us away from God and into danger. Some will be obvious, but others more subtle – and just as I hope I’m teaching T to stay well back rather than find the closest place to the edge of the curb that she can stand and still obey the rule to stop, I hope we can teach through words and example, to stay really close to Jesus rather than wondering how far away from him we can explore and still be safe in His hands.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Phil 4:11)