I was quite saddened and disturbed to wake up to the news this morning that a toddler had been stabbed to death (possibly by one of their parents) and that another had been accidentally run over by their father and killed. As a parent of 3 kids aged 6 years, 5 years and 8 months, these stories always make me sick to the stomach. I often question whether I am too overprotective of my kids but hearing stories like this and others about children abused by care givers or those vulnerable to abuse makes me want to protect them even more. If anything ever happened to my kids that I either caused, or could have prevented, it would haunt me for the rest of my life. I can't believe that others clearly do not feel the same - how can people perpetrate such terrible acts on kids? It's the fear that I may not be able to stop something terrible happening to my children that sometimes keeps me up at night and disturbs my dreams - so these stories really do touch a chord in me. Although unpalatable to hear, I hope such stories make us all hold our kids a little tighter and make us more grateful that we have them in our lives.
As I said earlier, I do wonder whether I am too overprotective of my kids. I can remember riding on my bike all round the streets near my house for hours on end, only returning home to grab something to eat or for toilet breaks. When I think back now, my parents gave me so much freedom to explore the world around me, something I am not sure I'll be able to give my kids when they get a little older. I would visit nearby friends, sit down in a park and read a book, ride to the pool, walk to the shops, anything that took my fancy really. I am not sure whether I would have had those same experiences in today's litigious and paranoid world. I can only hope I can give my kids a similar degree of freedom as they grow older, but I do seriously doubt it.
Reminiscing about my own childhood also led me to reflect on the materiality of life these days. For instance, my older kids each got a digital camera for christmas - I think I got my first camera when I was a teenager, and from memory, I helped pay for it too! Some kids of a similar age also have mobile phones or handheld gaming devices or ipods - it's overwhelming to think of all the technology and gadgets available to kids these days. Technology and it's affordability is the key but I often wonder whether they would be better off with the simple outdoor toys and games I had in my youth. God, I sound old sprouting off like that, but I really do think it is true. So this year for christmas my kids also got a lot of cheap and simple things like frisbees, bubbles, foam swords (my husband's idea...!!!), kites and water pistols to encourage some more outdoor fun and games. They have loved them and I'm hoping they will continue to lure them away from the DVD player and the Xbox during these school holidays.
So we need to look after our kids in this new world where there is so much happening and so many things to attract their interest. Hopefully the simple things will eventually prevail and we'll bring them up to make the right choices and to explore the world safely. On that note, I will go and give each of my kids a kiss as they lay sleeping and bid you all a very good night.