"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

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Friday, June 11, 2010

A Long Walk Off a Short Pier

Yesterday my Number One Son, the 12 year old, headed off with a bunch of friends after school. I didn't actually see him but my neighbour knew where they we going, or so she thought. Turns out after they went downtown to the convenience store, meaning they walked down the hill to the block of shops that constitute the main drag in our little town, they then headed to the pier. (There's a picture of it in the previous post) That's okay, I just would have liked to have known where to look for their bodies when they washed up on shore.

You know the old parental saying, "If Johnny jumped off the bridge, would you?" Well, this bunch of pre-teen boys who all are beginning to suffer from S.T.B.S (Stupid Teenage Boy Syndrome, my diagnosis) all decided to to take a long walk off a short pier. They went swimming with no adults to supervise. Now they will tell you that of the five of them, three almost have their Bronze Medallion and they do but the key word is almost and I don't think for a minute anyone of them could have rescued their buddy if he got in trouble. The pier is about 10 feet off the water and it is great fun to jump off of, it is one of the things I love about living here but I am not ready for my boys to go swimming there on their own yet. But S.T.B.S. kicked in and off they went like a herd of lemmings.


But wait, it gets better. I didn't actually hear about the swimming until this morning. What I did hear about last night was the photographer who took their pictures and asked for their names. Number One Son told me that they were going to be in the paper and I asked, "Why?" "Some guy took our picture and asked for our names." But not our local reporter who comes to every little event around town, no some guy from somewhere else. Great. Okay, I thought, time for a little reality check. I asked him if he thought that was a smart thing to do, give his name to a stranger? "Noooo," he replied. "I guess not. But he only took one of the back of our heads." Well, it turns out that he didn't just get the back of their heads, he also got pictures of them all jumping into the water. Three times so he could get the shot. Apparently one of the boys has his card which I will be tracking down to call and ask him if its his paper's policy to take photos and the names of kids without parental permission.

I am not one of those over-protective parents, I have no trouble signing the release form at school allowing their photo to be taken and even put on the school website. Hell, I have this blog and I put their pictures up all the time. It wouldn't take much for someone to figure out where we live but I choose to believe that most people, whether on-line or in RL, are not pedophiles or stalkers. But still, I want my children to stop and think before they do stuff. Any stuff, from something big like getting into a car with someone who has been drinking to something little like swimming without adult supervision (I now that's not little but, it's all relative) We are entering a whole new universe here at the house of Cid and I have to start thinking one step ahead of my boys. It's not just riding bikes to the store to buy candy, they are stepping further and further out of my control (I choose to believe that at sometime I had control) and I want them to have that independence which is why we live where we do and not in the big city where they wouldn't have been able to do anything on their own until well into their 20's. But there are limits and boundaries and I guess we really have to start talking about them. Number One Son is smart and a little cautious which is a trait I intend to foster but the herd mentality is powerful. This is only the beginning of trying to teach them to think for themselves or at least to think, "What would my mother say about me doing this?" I may not be Catholic or Jewish but I'm banking on a big dose of maternal guilt to keep my children safe for the next ten years or so.


  1. I'm dealing with this with my 4 yr old... he tries to be so independent but he has NO CLUE AT ALL. Which is normal because he's four. And don't underestimate the importance of maternal guilt. It's also your job to supply them with enough fodder for years of therapy about their childhoods. So go to it. ;)

  2. Oh boy, I've always said that if I knew being a parent involved so much worry, I might not have signed up. I guess in some ways they do have to learn on their own.

    p.s. Glad you were able to enjoy a ride with Jazz last night. A great way to re-energize!

  3. This stuff scares me too... yes, especially when they're with their friends - you hope that everything you try to set as a foundation stays there, but it more than likely gets thrown out the window with the excitement of being with his buddies. My guy's only 10 but feels like he's 18. We've actually had him attend a couple of "kidsafe" courses, but it's hard to know what he retains.

    Actually, when I think of how independent I was as a kid, and compare it to how my kids are and how protective I am, I wonder if I just worry too much. It just seems like such a different world these days, though. My kids are naturally cautious, but it's the whole peer factor that you have absolutely no control over. Who's kidding who - do we really have control over anything?

  4. Stupid Teenage Boy Syndrome. I have a couple of them suffering from this, too. Stand firm, Mom.


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