Yesterday in the newspapers there was a horrific tale of a 14 year old boy drowning at his summer swimming classes which got me into a tizzy and I declined the Brat's request to send her to a pool with her friend. Now, I was wondering how far we should go in the 'holding the kids back department' to ally our fears. The Brat argued long and hard, asking me again and again why I am not letting her go (approaching teens beckon), I told her that she did not know swinmming properly and it would be a risk for her friend's parents who would have to keep an eye on both their daughter ( who is learning swimming) and her. Moreover, it will be an unfamiliar pool where the shallow and deep side will be unknown to her. She tried to assure me that she will not go to the deep side, she just wanted to splash about a bit...after a long arguement, I had to tell her, what I didn't want to at first- the story of the young boy drowning. She kept quiet after that, and did not ask to go again, however I was left wondering whether I had instilled some kind of fear in her young mind which will not allow her to enjoy swimming in later life, or worst still, prevent her from learning swimming.
I was raised on such an atmosphere of parental fears, rather grandparental fears ( for my grandmom was the main worrier in the family followed by my father). Amma was very fearful of any tragedy that might befall me and also her other grand children. I remember she warned my Didi, my aunt's daughter, not to walk near cars, because she had heard of some horrific cases of kidnapping of girls by goons in cars!! This fear has become a nightmarish reality now in Delhi which has thrown up several cases of this sort. I was not allowed to go to friends' houses or to school picnics for fear that some misfortune would befall me. Needless to say, I resented this very much. I know that Amma could not shelter me from my share of bad experiences I battled eve teasers and gropers, I fell of the bus once and scraped my palm ( it could have been much worse because it was a busy Delhi road) and all this happened pretty much under her nose, near our home ( I did not tell anyone about my fall from the bus for fear that they won't let me go to college from the next day!)...but the point is that you cannot shield your child from accidents but you can pray like hell that they are none the worse for them. You can try to warn them, that these accidents may happen and hope that they will remember your words when the time comes. However, I also want my child to enjoy her life. I remember the first time she went for a school picnic she must have been 2years old (or less),I died a thousand deaths all day wondering what she was upto, but I sent her all the same. My parents in law did not want her to be sent, but I stood firm. Her teacher Bindu madam was a pillar of strength, she said, "dodn't worry, she will be ok and she will have a lot of fun..." The whole day I had spine chilling visions, from seeing my baby's hand caught in the slamming bus door to seeing her drown in the picnic pond...by the end of the three hours I was a nervous wreck...I went off to fetch her half an hour before the stipulated time and stood in front of her school gate gnawing at my nails till the picnic bus arrived with the happy children and their teachers...it was a great relief! This successful endeavour put a rest to my fears and I sent her to all school outings, thereafter. Later, I made sure that she attended all the birthday parties she was invited to even if the event was far from home, I dropped her there and brought her back with unfailing regularity. When it was the mite's turn, I was considerably more rational, I ofcorse warned him to keep his hand away from the hinges of the bus door and told him never to stray out of sight of his ma'am and never to go near a water body, but I was thinking of other things besides the mite and his picnic throughout the day. I think I have conquered the urge to constantly shelter the kids and never let them out of my sight...however, I have tried to warn them of the dangers the world outside holds. Now I can only cross my fingers and hope for the best.