I am just home from work, hooray for unexpected split shifts, so I didn’t get a chance to chat to the monsters tonight. I did however get to chat to them last night on Skype. Well actually I missed a call from them so I Skyped them back. It was awesome. There was so much to talk about so naturally we spent ages making faces at each other, pretending to bite of each others nose and generally mucking about before adding a friend to a conference call. The kids were so at home in front of the camera chatting away, much more comfortable than I am, it is a perfectly normal way for them to communicate.
I assumed that chatting on Skype it is a normal way for most people to be able to communicate but apparently I am wrong. I was chatting with other parents today about the use of social media, particularly children and social media. It astounded me that half of the parents I spoke to didn’t know what Skype was. Most knew what Facebook was even if they didn’t use it and seemed to believe that if they didn’t live in an online environment or use social media their kids wouldn’t. Besides, don’t you have to be 14 to be able to sign up for stuff online? It kind of freaked me out that people could be so naive. Does this mean that their children really aren’t living in an online environment at all or does it really mean that the kids are spending time online entirely unsupervised and the parents have no control over computer and internet usage?
This conversation led to talking about the involvement of parents in their kids lives and the freedom that they give their kids. Apparently I am the abnormal one in this situation. I am happy for my kids to walk over to their friends house without me holding their hands all the way. I am happy for them to scoot along the footpath out the front of the house and I am for them to play in the park without me supervising every second as long as I know where they are. I let my kids enjoy life, explore and have fun but I also believe that in doing this I am giving them a chance to learn and grow. Based upon the group of parents I was talking with, it is more normal for a parent to not let their kids out of the house without being supervised constantly. It is more normal for kids to be driven to and from every place they attend rather than walking their whether or not they are walking their alone.
I would like to think that I am allowing my kids to learn how to make decisions for themselves and to be able to see that each decision that they make has a consequence whether it is negative or positive. I also want them to know that each decision they make has impact on people other than just them. I do this not only because I am lazy but because I believe it is important to allow kids to learn how to make decisions when the decisions aren’t life threatening. I would like to think that they have learnt how to make decisions confidently before the choices they have to make involve serious risk taking behaviour like drinking, drugs or driving. I hope that by allowing them to start to develop decision making strategies now they will be able to have the confidence to make wise decisions when the situations requires it.
That said, I am really strict on some things, road safety in particular. My kids are extremely cautious and confident when it comes to road safety. They know the road laws and the importance of them. They always wear a helmet when they are riding a bike, scooter, skateboard or skates. They point out other people that are doing the wrong thing and can tell you why what they are doing is not only wrong but why it is dangerous. They are far more vigilant about road safety than any one else I know, including traffic police! I am confident in their knowledge of road safety.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I am really proud of my kids, of their knowledge of their world and of the other people in it. They are amazing little people, constantly surprising me with their observations and awareness. Can you tell that I am really looking forward to seeing them for real tomorrow?