To Mommy-coddle, or not?

Yet, again, a relevant conversation started by …

My kids (9 and 13) play in the park across the road. They ride their bikes to the NG graveyard in the neighbourhood (poor townplanning – but that is a whole other story) – obviously not daring to enter. I sometimes send them down to Spar to get a movie – 1km away, on a busy 4 way stop. They also have the odd game of tennis, hockey or whatever in our street. Luckily we stay in a quiet crescent, and they know not ever to go into the main streets. I find a reasonable protection for them, is our 2 yellow-eyed Weimeraners and the Africanis ‘special’ who are with them at all times, the minute they step out the house.

And we have dealt with snakes, rats, etc. And the kids know when to take the gap. And that dogs are stupid when it comes to slitheries, but cats are clever.

Both kids have been to swim lessons, and my daughter swims in our 3x4m – 1.3m deep ‘pond’ unattended. Admittedly, it is 3m from our lounge door, which stands open when she is frollicking.

I know bad things can happen, but I trust that they won’t.

This is perhaps one of the advantages of staying in a small, sleepy seaside town. And yes, I could be in a main centre, earning huge bucks, but then, I fear our casual, relaxed lifestyle would be no more. Although we also have murders, theft, etc, here.

Yes, I wonder if what we allow them to do is right, but at the same time, you will not find a 9 year old girl that is more independent and street smart, than Sussie. And she is planted firmly on the ground (Literally and figuratively – size 5 shoe). Most days, I do not even see her before she goes to school. (Does her own hair, dress, helps with lunch pack) And yes, she knows what bad things can happen – I have also been graphic with examples, and tell them what is going on in the news.
Both the minions also do chores like dishes, washing, peeling tats and carrrots, clearing up, etc. Oh, and they make their own beds, and sometimes mine, too. And until last month we had a full-time domestic. My 13yr old son, who is in his first year at the Hostel, can bake banana muffins and do a mean curry. (And yes, they chop with a knife, work the stove, break the eggs, etc.) And I have to agree that routine does wonders for a kid, too. Strict bedtimes (used to be 7 and 8pm for a loooong time – currently 8pm and 9pm)- since they were weiners – never had sleep problems; Sussie puts herself to bed. (sorry, had to give my 2 cents’ worth on this, too.)
So, it is very confusing. But Boetie and Sussie know that they are to tell us everything. (We often have good skinner sessions about what goes on in other people’s houses, and at school, etc.) And at the same time, I shudder when I am greeted at aftercare, with the words, “Oh, don’t worry, C has told us all about your [insert habit/ hobby/ financial situation]!!” And they know how to scream and holler, and be heard. And most importantly – they can, and are allowed to think for themselves and ask questions.

This whole story brings me to the theory of fate: if it is meant to be, it will be. Whether you are sitting at home watching Toddlers ‘n Tiara’s; or speeding down the N2 – if it is your time…. Also, as parents, we are not all-seeing, omnipotent gods – you can not be everywhere. Look at the recent stories of accidents, where toddlers sustained servere burn injuries in the presence of their parents? I do agree that girls are more tricky than boys.

But I sometimes think that parents do their kids a disservice by pamperlanging them to the extreme.

You need to teach your child – and give them the opportunity – to use their common sense.


2 thoughts on “To Mommy-coddle, or not?

  1. So true Ros, kids cant be ‘papmperlanged’ all the time….i have always exposed my kids to the realities of life…we dont hide anything from them…if hubby and i have a tiff about something, they sometimes join in too and give their 2 cents worth!! (My favourite is when they side with me :-). But unfortunately we dont all live in a sleepy sea-side town (although i wish we did) so unfortunately my kids arent growing up the way i did…riding around on bicycles till late at nigh (until Uncle Frank starts cruisng the streets in his Passat, looking for us), not having to do homework (i didnt know what homework was until i got to high school!) and i dont think either of my kids have ever climbed a tree! When you live in a big city you have to keep your eyes and ears open constantly (and that’s just us parents). In our neighbourhood you just take a ride through the church grounds or walk down the lane at the back of the high school and someone tries to sell you some dope or you get mugged! Nevermind ending up at the wrong youth group on a friday night by mistake and the local pastor grabs you by the hoodie, shoves you out the door and tells you to piss off!! And he happens to be one of the local primary school teachers too!! But he’s a nutcase, so we wont go there now…..So yes, its sad that my children cant experience the same carefree childhood that i did…playing tok-tokkie in the neighbourhood…nowadays your neighbour will shoot you first and ask questions later! And we live in a good area!! So there has to be some degree of mommy-coddling depending on the area you live in, and unfortunately for city folk there has to be a lot more. Your kids are lucky they dont have to be mommy-coddled…..gosh….even my cats are mommy-coddled…much to their disgust they’re not allowed to roam at night like other non-mommy-coddled cats!!! xxx

  2. Yup – I remember the good old days…
    And the lifestyle we enjoy here has such an influence on our career choices – and money-making schemes. Things are really tight here, and then we are asked why we don’t just up and move to JHB to earn the bucks…
    And this would be an absolute, bankrot, last resort decision – because we have a laid back lifestyle. Walks on the beach, pink flamingo’s, potholes, brown water, corrupt municipality…
    And my friends in PE, (considered to be the armpit of SA by many), feel the same as you. No ways their kids can ride bikes round, and do all the fun stuff we used to do. We used to camp in a caravan at Van Stadens – with no locks, for 3 weeks at a time… and usually my dad used to also patrol round the park here at midnight, looking for his 3 daughters, of at least one (I won’t mention any names…D) would be skuiling in the lifesaver’s hut, practising mouth to mouth!
    Crime happens here, (we had a shooting 2 houses down from us a while back – luckily not fatal) but def not on the same scale as in the cities.
    And the more I think of this, the more I realise that common sense is the big thing – it is about one of the best things you can teach your kids. Oh, and that you can take sensible precautions – but, sometimes shit happens.
    Listen, my cats enjoy a privileged life, too – sometimes, I am ashamed to admit, I love them more than my own offspring!?

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