Saturday, August 29, 2009

Safety Joe

I am really into safety, especially since Ezra came into the world. I wouldn't drive over San Marcos pass the first 3 months of his life as it seemed so unsafe and he was such a fragile little thing. Now that he is approaching 3, I have lightened up considerably, but I can't help but hold his hand extra tight when we are walking along a busy street.

Last week, I saw a mom at a busy intersection holding a baby with a toddler boy about Ezra's age playing wildly. She didn't hold his hand and he ran in circles, flapping his hands wildly with glee. From inside my 2 ton metal box zipping by them, I was terrified that the little boy would chase the imaginary thoughts in his mind right into the street. I shared some version of my concern with my husband and he thought it was good that this little boy was wild and free. Obviously, he seemed to know the boundaries of where the sidewalk ended and live frogger began, but why on earth would you take such a chance?

At the same time, I see children in my neighborhood not older than 6 or 7 caring for their younger siblings while their parents walk ahead with a baby in the stroller, all attention focused on the new addition. And they get by. They know the rules and they have their wits about them because they have the space to learn on their own.

I can't help but think of the John Prine song Safety Joe. Joe doesn't have any fun as all he can think about is safety. You want to give Joe a shake and shout "live a little!"

I know there is some middle ground. I'm fairly certain Ezra wouldn't step off the curb into the street. But I won't be letting go of his hand with my fierce grip anytime soon.


Chryss said...

Good post, Noelle. I know I erred on the side of caution myself... it also helped to have some firm rules. Asphalt was "hot lava" to Princess Whackamole for the first 4 years or so, that she could only touch with an adult holding her hand. It was half game, but with a serious purpose.

Kristin Anderson said...

Thanks! I love the "hot lava" concept. Very good idea!

Patrick said...

Call me a romantic, but I thought "Safety Joe" was John's Prine's ironic critique of "Killer Joe," the infamous jazz lady killer.

In any case, like Arie Jan, I always as a dad preferred a long enough leash for kids to make mistakes and learn on their own but short enough that they don't get hurt. Or, in another metaphor, parents are the fences in the bumper car ride of childhood.