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  • Gareth Ellis

Safety First

I’ve always been a cautious kind of guy.

When I was younger I didn’t really want to climb trees or do anything dangerous, I rarely talked back to my teachers at school for fear of the repercussions, and I liked doing things that were safe.

So, it’s no surprise that as a Dad I am very cautious with the kids as well – I think the number one phrase that comes out of my mouth when I’m with the kids is either ‘careful’ or ‘be careful.’

Jess and I have a very different approach to things in this regard and where they might run down a hill or climb onto something, Jess is happy to let them explore. Whereas I can’t stand the thought of them falling and hurting themselves. That’s not to say Jess doesn’t care about that, but just that we have a different approach to things.

So many times now I have watched, often through my fingers, as Rupert runs down a hill close to our house, because I’m scared he’s going to fall over. I know falling over is part and parcel of growing up and by letting him experience it we’re not monsters, I just hate the thought of him being hurt when it could be avoided.

We recently went to the park at Willen Lake and in the absence of a traditional ‘baby’ park with swings and low-lying apparatus, Rupert has learned to climb a lot of the ladders, even the curved ones, all by himself (cue very proud parents.) However, with that pride also comes the use of my ‘favourite’ word – careful. I swear, he must think that’s his name sometimes, the amount I say it. But it was during this visit that Jess said something amazingly funny, as Rupert made a daring climb up to a pretty high platform (with Mummy’s watchful help I might add.) But, as he got to a safe place, right before he was due to slide down, Jess turned to me and said: “Should they not be made to wear harnesses or something?” Of course, she was joking, but it did make us both laugh.

Now Emi has started walking and again I’m very proud. I love seeing her toddle around with a look of sheer joy on her face. But again, I can’t help but say ‘Careful, baby’ as she walks across the room. I guess I’m no different to any parent, right? We don’t want our children to hurt themselves, and even less so on our watch. The reason for me is that it looks like I wasn’t paying attention.

On the morning of Emilia’s first birthday, I watched as she happily walked over to the cupboard that holds all of her toys. I then watched as she reached for a toy – as she has done dozens of times now – and then spiralled as she fell, bomping her head on the aforementioned cupboard. Now, in that instance I was watching her the whole time. I trusted that she would be fine as it was something she’d done so often and she was just standing still – she just fell faster than I could jump across the room.

Luckily, the bruise/bump that followed didn’t affect her mood, her health or her birthday in any way – but it made me want to be that little bit more careful.

The question is, when does careful become TOO careful? I don’t want them to get hurt, but I don’t want them to be scared of everything just because their Daddy was worried they might get a graze on their knees.

At some point I’ll have to find that line between letting them explore and holding their hands forever. I mean, before I know it they won’t want to hold my hand at all – at least not in front of their friends.

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