Yes I know, I know. It sounds bad. It really isn’t, honest!
First off, let me say that I have been blessed with a really cool kid. She is smart, hilarious, blunt and a little too much like me, in all the best ways. She has also been brought up to be respectful to others, sadly a trait often lacking in the youths of today.
I live on a road with multiple blocks of flats. And we all know cooped up kids are nightmares. So, everyday, the parents decide they want some peace and quiet and send their kids out to play. I have a few issues with this. Firstly, the parents are not keeping a constant watch on their children (they often go round the corner), and it wouldn’t do them any good if they were because if someone decided to snatch a child and run, the parents would have no way of getting to them in a reasonable amount of time. While many parents wrongly believe their children are automatically safe, which we all wish were true, this road has regular stabbings, anti-social behaviour (well, you have read what the people in my block are like, and that is just one building!), drug dealing (there are at least two within a hundred yards of my front door) and, well, just the dregs of society really! Of course, we have nice people too *smiles angelically* but it isn’t those people you have to worry about!
Secondly, the parents shout at their kids when they are playing out front, which forces them into my front garden, and to a set of double gates leading to a garage. To explain that bit better, the road bends where my block of flats is, and most cars follow that curve. But because there is a back road behind me, cars occasionally either pull off the road to get to the underground garages or follow the back road behind me as an entrance to the backs of houses behind me.
The long and short of it is that while it is not a main road, cars do use it on a regular basis. And the sad fact is there are some lunatic drivers round here… I certainly wouldn’t want my daughter out there alone.
And lastly, the kids kick balls at the metal garage doors just outside constantly.
It is maddening. In my opinion, if you want your kids to play outside, you either go down with them, or you take them to an appropriate place to vent! Sending your children out to play on roads and in other people’s front gardens is wrong, no matter how convenient it is.
Case in point, a local representative of a well-known brand sent her three children (aged I think around 4,6 and 7) into my block to collect catalogues. If something went wrong, there would have been no way for her to enter the block to help her kids, as you need to be let in. In this instance, I told the kids to get their mum and I told her off, but it scares me that I had to.
Moving on. I realise that I can’t shoot them with BB Guns, but what about water guns??
If so, would ethics dictate I had to give them water guns too to make it a fair fight? And if I have to, will the 4-for-£1 ones do against the cannon blaster I want to get? What about water temperature and add-ins like washing up liquid? How much advance notice would be needed? Need I warn my neighbours against potential misfires?
Or would it work just as well if I just give them water guns to play with? Perhaps the parents will get tired of them coming in with wet clothes.
I considered water balloons… but decided I didn’t want to go round picking all the rubbish up after.
Of course, as much as the kids annoy me, I have no intention of supplying or using water guns or anything else, but there are no laws against thinking about it!
Because of my past, I automatically see danger around ever corner, and I can get very over protective. That is one of my flaws that requires work. Good news is that my family are there to tell me to snap out of it when I reach panic mode. Of course, a parents fears should not be projected onto children, and your worries should not, under any circumstances, be their worries. BUT, in this day and age, we can’t just forget the dangers that are everywhere. We only need to look back a few months and we are faced with what happened to little April Jones. Surely that is a stark warning that no matter where we are, how safe a neighbourhood we live in, there are still dangers around.
I get that it would be a pain in the backside to stand outside for a couple of hours while your kids are playing, but is that inconvenience not worth it a million times over to protect your children? Is that inconvenience not worth the guilt you would feel for life should anything happen?
As there are children (as young as 4) from several different families that come out together, why not take it in turns with other parents in the block?
I am not a very good mother. I am not the best role model. And I am very, very well aware that I have many flaws, and being a grumpy old git is one of the more prominent ones.
This piece is not about calling people bad parents, implying they don’t care for their children or anything else. It is just a reminder that the days of leaving your doors unlocked and letting your children disappear in the direction of a field with a packed lunch are gone. Sure it sucks. Then again, so does life.