There has been a lot about parenting in the news this week, the 4 year old boy who managed to get into the gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo and the young 7 year old whose parents left him in woods in Hokkaido Japan. It seems that much of society jump on the judge the parents social media debate.
We only know what the press deem important to share, we, the general public don't know all the facts that led to these two children ending up in a dangerous situations.
Last summer I lost child 4 in a zoo, I found him happily playing on a climbing frame not far from where I was buying him and his siblings ice creams, he of course, completely oblivious to the gut searing panic that had smashed through me as I hunted for him amongst what felt like thousands of people, I was just buying ice creams, he was with me and then he wasn't.And I am sure that many of us have walked on when our children are tantruming, because they are too tired to walk or their legs don't work anymore. I often sit at the gate at the top of the field on the way home from school waiting for child 4 to give up waiting for me to walk back to him and piggy back him all the way home. It can take a very very long time, but heyho at least the sun is shining at the moment and I can catch up on Twitter and Facebook news whilst I wait.
I know that my examples are not quite what happened in the publicised cases but I can appreciate how easily a parent can take their eye off a young child or have those buttons pushed over and over again that you make a poor parenting choice. We are after all human and with that comes a number of frailties and unfortunately none of us can predict what our children will do day after day, talk about in the next few minutes.
It is this judgment of my parenting, that I have had ticking away at the back of my mind this week. Just before the holidays child 4 was involved in an incident, where a child was very rude to an adult. There were a small group of boys running around, letting off steam after pre-school, child 4 was one of them. One of child 4's little friends came running over to me, to tell me that my young son had been very rude to a mum on the playground and I should tell him off. I went off to find the mum involved to investigate exactly what had happened, to be told that it wasn't child 4 at all! After determining what had happened I headed off to collect him, when this same little boy came up to check that I was going to tell him off. When I explained that lying about some one was unkind and as he was my sons friend I thought it was sad that he wanted to get him in to trouble, he responded with he didn't care and laughed!!
I have always been scared that child 4 is going to be "that child" the one who is always in trouble, the one who is alienated by other parents and children, the one that doesn't get invited to birthday parties or after school teas. As a family we have worked so hard at ensuring that his behaviour doesn't spill out of control when we are out and about. But by doing this, by keeping him close, by pro-actively managing his anger, in a way we have created a mindset in some that he is a problem. He is being alienated because within this little "gang" the other boys are allowed to play in the forest school area unsupervised, it's too dangerous for child 4, there are big sticks, stones and rope all possible weapons if another child presses his buttons and all of this is out of sight of the playground and other adults. People are aware of him because we will remove him from the scene of an altercation that is building, regardless of whether he is actually involved, because he is likely to involve himself. Or we will call to him, to remind him that we are nearby making sure that he is ok.
I cannot change our parenting techniques as that will make things worse, if we are not watchful all manner of things can happen, I have removed big sticks being wielded as an axe or a sword, a threatening tennis racquet being raised to batter someone with, if I had not the child on the receiving end could have been really hurt, it doesn't matter that they were being mean or snatched a toy or pushed child 4 first.
I am sure that some people enjoy causing upset and anguish to others because they are unhappy with their lives or they are jealous of what someone else has, so I guess we need to surround ourselves with people who understand, who help, not who sit idly by judging others for what they do. This is obviously going to be a little tougher than we realised but with the right people with us, we will be ok. I hope that the families in the news this week are surrounded by people who love them and can help support them so that the right outcomes for them all are reached.