I got my aerobic exercise for the morning trying to change the sheet in my granddaughter’s crib. Due to new safety regulations, the cribs no longer have a drop down latch that allow you to change a sheet without breaking a rib or two. In addition, mattresses are made to be very close to the railing allowing so no precious head can get caught there, but also allowing for only a contortionist who is part of the Cirque de Soleil troupe easy access to it. Since babies have a tendency to spit up and poop at least three times a day in their cribs, that makes for a lot of inept maneuvering by parents and grandparents. Yet, this is something we gladly do, anything to protect our children. We urge them to wear elbow/knee pads and helmets when careening down hills on their skateboards and bikes (although we survived without the cumbersome safety devices), and we are grateful for them. Many safety measures in place now, whether crib, toy or clothing related are a result of tragic, preventable deaths.
But what to do after the children have survived their childhood and have become teens? They are under siege by digital sexual predators looking to strip them of their vulnerability and much worse, as well as other scary temptations. One in five teens will be solicited unknowingly by a predator through the internet or an innocent-looking text message. Gone are the halcyon days when we told our kids don’t accept candy from a stranger, or if a stranger rolls down the window of his car, run like hell in the other direction. Now, the danger waltzes right into our homes. Progress is a double-edged sword and being a parent today is more challenging than it ever was. An aware and present parent goes a long way to keeping one’s child safe—unless all that awareness and hanging around makes you want to strangle your teen, but that’s for another blog.
It’s a balancing act, this thing we call parenting. We want our children to grow into independent, thinking adults and we wrestle daily with how much freedom is too much. We throw up our hands in frustration, and then we throw them around our kids and tell them how terrific they are and how much we love them, even if we have to grit our teeth doing it. Has anyone noticed how INCREDIBLY SMART the eighteen-year olds are today? In addition to solving the crisis in the Middle East, they have solutions for the economy and world hunger. But don’t forget , as much as your teenager has evolved from that tiny, mewling, slippery eight pound baby the doctor handed you many years ago, he stills needs to be parented. He still needs direction and focus and that gentle admonition from time to time. And maybe, with any luck, by the time he turns twenty-five, he may just realize how smart YOU have actually become.