Saturday, 30 March 2013

Park Life

Is it just me, or do you always have to have sight of your children?

Despite Mini's need to hold on to the buggy when we're out walking, if the mood takes him, as it does at parks and sometimes in shops, he runs and explores.
I struggle with this a little bit, ok a lot.
I know I need to back off, give him space to explore, watch from a distance and let him be a normal young boy, but at the same time I worry...for all sorts of reasons.

You know those mums you see at the play area hovering right by the climbing frame, or standing at the bottom of the slide, following their children around? That's me.
It doesn't help that I don't wear my glasses as often as I should, and I really do need to be close to distinguish my 6 year old from all the other 6 year olds, but I have this need to be able to see Mini at all times. And I have found that the design of most of the parks around here don't make it easy for you to sit at the side and see your child running around...there are bamboo screens, log pole fences, and usually a large climbing frame in the middle so wherever you sit, your view of the opposite side of the play area is blocked.

So why do I worry?

The lack of distance between birth family and us. And the fact that we know they visit our town. This makes me incredibly paranoid about them snatching him. And yes, they are that much of a risk....yes, even now after this many years.

Mini's clumsiness. I guess to others he wouldn't seem that clumsy, but he is always tripping over his feet, and his legs are multi-coloured - dotted with purple, yellow and black bruises, punctuated by bright Ben 10 plasters. When he's 8 foot up on a climbing frame, I worry that his clumsiness will cause him to fall, and I want to be there to catch him.

Coupled with the clumsiness, is Mini's 'hurty' problem. The one where he'll come running for a bumped knee, but not for a split open head. Indeed he recently bashed his head quite hard at school, but didn't tell an adult for 2 hours, til it really started to hurt. However, a fall in the playground resulted in a bit of a grazed knee, which he reported straight away, and happily went off to the medical room for a clean up and a plaster, and on returning home he screamed and cried when the plaster was removed, has limped for 3 days, and will only sleep in short pyjamas that don't brush against his leg!
So anyway, I worry that he'll get hurt, but won't say anything. And I worry that he'll have a seizure, but he won't know (because he never does) and so I'll miss it.

I worry that if I'm not nearby, Mini will run off. Because he does. Because the grass is greener and he wants to see over that hill. Because he doesn't think about getting lost, or running near a road or car park. Because Mini lacks common sense. Despite lessons to teach otherwise, Mini doesn't have much safety savvy. And I've had those heart-in-mouth moments when he's ended up too close to a moving car, or edge of the road for my liking.

Mini's social skills aren't great. I feel I have to be nearby in case I need to intervene or remind Mini to take turns, or to make sure he's OK if confronted by another child.

And I guess I'm just one of those parents. I have this overwhelming need to keep them safe and nearby. It took me a long time to have my children, and it wasn't easy to have either of them. Therefore, I must keep them safe at all costs right?

Twice I've experienced that heart-stopping, stomach churning moment where I've lost sight of Mini. On one occasion it took me 3 or 4 minutes to find him and I cannot describe to you how I felt, it was without exception the scariest moment of my life. Thankfully, I was with someone else who saw him and pointed him out where he was happily playing and running around, and hadn't of course noticed me looking for him, turning paler and paler as I did so!

I've tried, really I have, to keep my distance and I manage it better at soft play where he's more enclosed, and he couldn't escape the building. And we're fine at the beach as it's much more open and I can see him and anyone else approaching us too. But at the park, or in a shop, I just can't help it.

This is definitely my issue and something I need to work on. Mini and Dollop both need space to develop, and they need to become independent. The trouble is, both need to learn dependence first and I'm just not sure we're there yet. There's a fine line which I'm yet to find, so any pointers would be gratefully received.

14 comments:

  1. Oh I can relate to this, times 3, and you can gaurantee all 3 will run off in different directions to explore a play park :/ I end up exhuasted from rushing back and forth and doing head counts every few minutes :) I have purchased 3 identical cardigans/hoodies/jackets that I find help with the whole 'spotting' issue :)
    I also prefer the safety of an indoor play area! :)

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    1. I tend to now only go to small gated play areas where I can guarantee I can see both Mini and Dollop. Of course, because she's only little I have to go after her, help her climb ladders, swing etc, whilst keeping an eye on him. I know all parents of multiple children must have the same problem, but I do wonder if our kids are more likely to do the whole flight thing...

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  2. I don't think you're being unreasonable at all. Of course children need space to develop, but that doesn't always mean actual physical space - they need emotional space and brain space as well. And they need to be kept safe. Your problem isn't one of not trusting your child, or wishing to control your child - it's a reasonable reaction to very real safety fears, and if I were you, I wouldn't worry about it. My boy is much younger, but he runs away, has no fear of being out of my sight and does not come when called - I'm constantly terrified! Automatic doors are my nightmare! :)

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    1. Thank you for making me feel like I'm not a total paranoid control freak. Automatic doors - yes total nightmare. I've become that mum who constantly shouts her child's name, with a complete lack of control over him, who gets tutted at by everyone else!

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  3. And its better than being a mum who doesn't care and finds her kids an an inconvenience! And these things can happen so easy and quickly...I recall less than 30 seconds lack of concentrating at a beach resulted in sheer panic for half an hour trying to find a 3 year old son who had wandered off about 28 years ago-- its so vivid the sheer terror I remember it still so easily....and thanks to Eliie Pearce who thankfully spotted him.......and if other people query or disapprove of your actions its their problem as you dont want to lose your kids like you did your brother all those years ago! X

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    1. It's not about other people querying or disapproving, it's me feeling like I'm too paranoid. Like I don't give him enough space, or too much.
      I often seem to be the only mum hovering near the play equipment in parks. It makes me wonder why I'm the only one? All the others seem content to sit at the benches around the outside, chatting with their friends...why can't I do that too? Should I do that too?
      Nice to see that lots of other people are the same as me, they just frequent different parks...

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  4. I don't think you should look at it as your issue at all, it's just your inbuilt mothering nurturing instinct. I know my girls are still very little, but I am a hoverer when they go to the playground. I also find myself reaching out with my hand in the supermarket just to pat our eldests head when she's walking and not in the trolley and that's even with my husband there (it's like I don't trust him to watch her ha!) I have to be able to see them all the time.
    With the birth family to contend with too, that can't help but make you all the more protective. I don't think you need to worry about them not developing and becoming independent. They will do that, but they will do it safe in the knowledge that you love them and worry about them.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I just find that I'm the only mum in the park that does this...there's me thinking I'm the only hoverer and it turns out there's loads of you out there. Why aren't there any others in my local parks?

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  5. Fab post...I too like my kids close by where i can see them x

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    1. Thank you for commenting. I never see anyone else who hovers, other mums round here seem content to just sit and chat out of sight of their kids.

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  6. I can relate to this too - those heart in the mouth moments - most days - I look ahead to anticipate the potential dangers and how PJ might react and how I might need to respond or prepare. PJ has no sense of danger and has an urge to run - we play chase and I try and make iot a game with instructions of where to run next - I constantly take about being safe and expolain and point out the boundaries - of paths, flowerbeds, the tops of climbing frames. I have yelled and yelled stop and been tutted at too and also run after when she is faced away from me to catch up and then slow down and walk as she turns to see if I am running after. wellies slow her down btw, as does an icecream in hand when running.

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    1. Ha ha, wellies and icecream are great tips. This is really only a big thing for me in certain places, as I said before, holding onto the buggy is also a 'thing'. Of course I want him to run and play in open spaces, but I've always felt like the only one who hovers...nice to know I'm not the only one with a 'runner' in certain situations...

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  7. Jonathan LOVES to be outside and our back yard is not fenced in. I do however let him out with strict rules but every 30 seconds I'm looking and checking, plus I open all the windows on the back of the house so if I'm trying to do something I can at least hear him. As soon as it's quiet I run to the window to look. After the health card fiasco I too am paranoid about birth parents (although we have been told not to worry it just doesn't help!)
    I think you are not crazy...you have normal amazing parenting instincts layered under normal adoption worries and fears, which aren't irrational. And, you understand the other side of the coin - eventually they need to venture a little farther, become a little more independent. You will know when that time is right.

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    1. Thanks Lindsay. I can imagine being told not to worry just amplifies the worry?
      It's a fine line between wanting to keep him close but giving him freedom. I'm aware I sound very contradictory after complaining about him hanging on the buggy, but also worrying about him being too far away (especially when I'd have to drag Dollop along to catch Mini).
      But yes, I think he will learn independence, but first he needs to learn to be dependent.
      x

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