Monday, July 27, 2009

Child Safety

It's amazing how many people will open a door for a child. At church, we have easily accessible power-assist doors that my children could operate by themselves from the time they learned to walk.

But in stores and elsewhere out in public, the existence of unfamiliar heavy doors is often the last line of defense between my children and the great wild world. Read: parking lot.

First line of defense: mommy's undivided attention. Second line of defense: mommy's shrill voice. Third line of defense: child's inability to find exit. Last line of defense: nonnegotiable door.

I have no idea how many transactions I've cut short by apologizing to a cashier/receptionist/clerk and running out of a shop/medical office/photography studio after my child, for whom some polite and well-meaning stranger has opened the front door.

Please do not do this!

(Updated to remove neighbor anecdote.)


RAK said...

This is shocking. At synagogue, adults will occasionally open doors for kids, but then will always watch the kids and/or look for the parents. And it's always inside doors, not doors to the outside. Plus, we do it because the door is heavy and will smash little fingers if they don't succeed in opening the door themselves. But there's always a "where's your mommy or daddy?" that goes along with it, and it's a situation where people know each other, not random strangers.

In my parents' neighborhood, the neighborhood association has made up yard signs that say "Got Kids?" and something a little more wordy along the lines of "slow down, our children live here." Maybe you and your responsible neighbors can band together and do something like that.

Stushie said...

Please teach your kids not to go out of store doors or stand by them, Sarahlynn; that's your responsibility. My wife and I had to learn this early on, and so did our kids.

People have to walk in and out of doors, not look after your children.

It sounds harsh, but they are your children.

As for your neighbors, we've all got them...just post-modern life in the real world.

Sarahlynn said...

RAK, that's very appropriate situational etiquette!

Stushie, my husband suggests several constructive ways I might respond to your wholly inappropriate comment. But I don't feel like being constructive just now. You came to my personal blog and attacked me in a very deeply personal way, and I will leave my response as I first drafted it, including all the Mama Bear rage your comment inspired.

Did you not have much to do with raising your children, or have you just forgotten what toddlers are like?

A) Not all tiny children obey perfectly all the time, especially when they can see that a parent's attention is temporarily diverted elsewhere. Pediatricians' offices still do require parents to sign in, for example.

B) Some children are able to walk. Those who do so might not stay planted firmly beside their parent at all times, particularly when a parent's guiding hand is temporarily elsewhere (e.g. whipping out a credit card for a copay).

C) They sure are my children, and if you don't know by now that I am a responsible parent who takes very good care of them, then you haven't been reading very closely. Moreover, you are lacking in Christian compassion, by which I suggest that you tend to take the least sympathetic possible reading of a situation and judge based on negative assumptions.

D) I am talking about people opening doors for my children, not my child scampering through doors as customers are entering/leaving a store.

E) Perhaps it has escaped your notice that my older daughter has special needs. Perhaps you have little experience with children who have special needs. Perhaps you have no idea what it's like to parent a child who's challenged by certain situations, and challenged by expressing her needs and wants. Let alone actually being a child who has these challenges and sometimes feels the need to bolt.

It must be really depressing, seeing the world as you do.

elissa said...

oh, sarahlynn. what a ridiculous comment.

Monkey is very close in age to Ada, and, as his nickname would suggest, is full of mischief. My older son was that boy who stood beside me, who listened carefully, who held my hand compliantly. It's possible I thought myself an amazing parent because I taught him so well to stay close and listen. This one? Not so much. It's hard enough to get my stuff together to leave the house with these two and manage those things you mention like signing in or getting out check cards or carrying purchases or whatever, but people like stushie sitting back and tut-tutting about my parenting is just too much.


Amanda said...

"It sounds harsh, but they are your children."

Seriously? It takes a village, dude.

Sarahlynn said...

Elissa, thanks. :)

I think I got out all of my vitriol with that response. And I felt more anger than pain, because I KNOW that I'm a good mom. I'm human, I make mistakes, but I'm not an irresponsible parent and I do teach my children what I expect of them. I attended a workshop on "stereo modeling" for stopping dangerous behaviors, for goodness' sake!

My two children are different, too. My 2-year-old can sit through church, for example. My 5-year-old? Not even the children's chat. So am I a half-awesome/half-lackadaisical parent? Or are kids just different? Why, yes.

Sarahlynn said...

Explaining my "Christian compassion" comment: I know this guy. He's not a troll, and he is a minister. We don't always see eye to eye.

Amanda, that's true. In both positive and negative ways. :)

RobMonroe said...

I wanted to comment on Monday night at the hotel, but my butt was kicked. Something about playing with your children in the pool or something. :o) (Which was incredibly fun and I'm jealous over your awesome pool, and grateful that Abby got so brave and it carried over at home last night!)

There are things we teach our children that stick, and things that need to be retold over and over. Some they are told once and seem to "get it" right away. Doors will always be tricky for a child. They lock you into a place and out of what could lie behind. Why eat one M&M when you know the bag is on the table sort of thing.

I can attest that I see you as a kick-ass parent and strive to be like you and Paul all the time.

Sarahlynn said...

Rob, thanks!

A) You were awesome with the kids at the pool. All the other parents (read: mothers) were impressed. You are a natural with kids, but I'm not surprised to hear that it's harder than you make it look!

B) We miss you three already! (And Jim has been complaining that he didn't get enough Abby time.)

Brigid said...

I'm coming to the party a bit late here (I just found your awesome blog, courtesy of Editorial Ass), but this post, especially Stushie's comment, struck a chord with me. I have a 27 month old little boy. He is extremely smart and very active. He knows how to climb, he knows how to put a key in a lock and turn it, and he knows the very instant my attention is diverted. I have no patience for people who think it's so easy to "teach" a child to obey all the time. People are clueless and careless and stupid sometimes. No one should open a door for a child, no one should be zooming down a residential street, and no one should be criticizing another mother for something like this. Grr! Your response was right on.

Sarahlynn said...

Brigid, I'm so glad you found me! (And I love Moonrat's blog.)

Also, thank you. :)