Lost and Found

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I always seem to have a pile of items that belong to kids that visit us and leave their belongings strewn around the house. As soon as I’ve located their owners and returned their things to them, a new pile grows afresh.

When friends leave I always check that they have everything, but without fail I always seem to find items in the oddest places. I even find that when I’m folding clean washing there always seem to be items of clothing that my family doesn’t own.

Mind you, my kids are the worst culprits of leaving their belongings at their friend’s houses so I guess you could call it karma!

My son rarely comes home from school with the belongings he took with him. Our school’s lost property has a policy that they charge kids 50c for each of their items that are found in lost property. This is a great revenue raiser from our family, as my kids’ possessions tend to migrate to lost property on a very regular basis.

I sometimes wish it could be possible to just staple my kids’ hats on their heads and superglue their jumpers on their bodies! I keep thinking with maturity will come a sense of responsibility to keep track of their things, but even with one child about to become an adult, I’m still waiting to see this transition.

At least I guess the forever present pile of forgotten items at my house is a reminder that it’s not only my kids that lose tracks of their things!

Do your kids also regularly misplace their things?

(Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net)

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It’s as easy as riding a bike  

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There are certain times throughout parenthood where you are faced with a scenario where you need to teach your child a skill, but may want to put it off as it is a tedious or painful task for you.

A prime example of this is when you teach your kids to ride a bike. They generally start riding bikes with the assistance of training wheels. These allow them to have a sense of freedom as they wobble side to side from one training wheel to another, never having to really master balancing the bike.

Your child knows the basics of riding a bike and they can ride for fun. You have that internal conversation with yourself whether you bite the bullet and teach them how to balance and ride, or is it easier (for both you and the child) to let them use training wheels until they are an adult? It’s one of those jobs that you know is going to back-breaking but eventually you have to dedicate the time to teach them a life long skill. This means you have to try to hold the bike seat whilst running alongside the child, all the while barking orders and trying to not let the bike fall over sending the kid (and/or you) over the handlebars. It’s not an exercise for those with weak backs as it is unnatural to twist your back, pulling and pushing on the bike frame, whilst running.

My son loved riding his bike as a toddler and insisted we remove his training wheels at two years of age. As you can imagine, his bike barely reached my knees, so running, twisting, bending and manipulating the bike was a nightmare. Thankfully he was so motivated that he picked it up quite quickly, whereas my daughter was seven before we could convince her she needed her training wheels removed.

Apart from having to manipulate your body into what resembles a yoga pose while running, it also takes a bit of deception to make the child think you are holding them, while intermittently letting go in the hope that they will start to balance the bike by themselves. Eventually they will get the knack and before you know it, your hard work has paid off. They will eventually have a skill that they can recall and use anytime in life – hence the saying, ‘it’s like riding a bike’.

There is immense relief once you have taught your child to ride a bike (assuming that is without injury to you, the child or the bike) and the effort seems worthwhile. So if there is a task you have been putting off with your child, embrace the challenge and give it a go – there’s no time like the present.

(Picture courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)

What age can I leave my child at home alone?

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I was having an interesting conversation the other day when the question was posed, ‘at what age can I leave my kids at home by themselves?’

It prompted me to review the law – which in my state of NSW Australia there is no set age although in Queensland it is age 12. It also varies around the world, some states in USA have a law that the minimum age is 8 years while in another state it is 14.

I guess the real question is how independent and responsible are your children? I will leave my youngest two (13 & 9) at home together for half an hour to go pick up my other kids but I wouldn’t leave them for a prolonged length of time without an older sibling or adult around to supervise. I also wouldn’t leave my 9 year old son at home alone yet – much to his disgust!

A key indicator that the child is ok to stay at home alone is the fact that the child feels safe and confident to be left alone. Obviously you wouldn’t leave a child at home under duress.

The maturity and willingness of a child of 10 to be home alone may be higher than a child of 14 – you need to assess each child to determine whether they can be trusted to be sensible if left alone. I assume that the discretion to know whether your child is mature enough to be home alone is the reason our state has no strict law on age eligibility.

In order to be left home alone some of the key skills children must have are:

  1. be able to follow instructions you have left
  2. be able to use a phone to call you if needed
  3. recall their address if they have to contact emergency services
  4. know when it is necessary to call for help
  5. know to not do any dangerous things (eg playing with fire) when home alone.

The other issue related to this whole grey area of whether a child is responsible enough to be home without adults is whether there are younger children to be supervised and whether the older child is capable of looking after those kids.

So in answer to the question I posed – there is no definitive answer, just the parent’s discretion to ensure their kids are safe.

(Photo courtesy of photostock, freedigitalphotos.net)

My community is grieving

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My heart goes out to my local community who is grief stricken after a horrendous accident this week.

Every parent’s worst fear became a reality this week when a young 10 year old boy was skateboarding on the road when a car driven by a P plater hit him.

After two days battling his injuries and multiple surgeries, the boy lost his struggle for life yesterday afternoon. His family has made the generous decision to donate his organs to help kids who are critically ill and as such his legacy will live on, although his life has ended too soon.

This boy is the same age as my son and I know at this age boys are fearless and don’t have very good road sense – twice yesterday my son walked behind a reversing car! I’m forever telling my kids to get off screens and be active outside, which is exactly what this boy was doing but in a horrific set of circumstances the inexperienced driver was unable to avoid hitting him – that’s not to say any driver may have been able to avoid the collision.

I can’t imagine the inexplicable grief this little boy’s family must be feeling. His young life cut short from an activity that boys everywhere do!

I also have a daughter a similar age to the driver, so I also have great empathy for this poor teenager who has to live with the guilt of being responsible for the 10 year old’s death. It’s scary when your child starts to drive independently as you no longer have any control over their safety.

We can’t wrap our kids in cotton wool, although after instances like this, we all wish we could. The purpose of this post is not to point the finger at anyone as being guilty, rather it is to reflect on how precious our kids are and how we have to live life to the fullest as none of us knows when our time will be up.

My sympathy goes out to everyone in my community who is grieving the loss of this little boy and I hope that the families of both this little boy and the driver are given support to help them cope with the unbearable stress they must be feeling.

(Image courtesy of stuart miles, freedigitalphotos.net)

Kids birthday parties aren’t what they used to be!

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When I was a kid, birthday parties used to consist of a few friends coming to our house or a local park. We would play pass the parcel (the variety where there was only one winner) and maybe run a 3 legged race. We would eat fairy bread and have a homemade cake – and we loved it!

Fast forward to my kid’s generation and every party seems to be bigger than Ben Hur! Every party seems to have a theme and you almost need an event planner to pull it off! A few years ago our family went to a kid’s carnival themed party that had full size rides, bouncy castles and a disco at their house. My daughter went to a party last year that had approximately 100 kids as guests and had a DJ and a photo booth.

My daughter is turning thirteen this week and she is having an ‘international’ party where the guests are to come dressed in national dress of their choice of country. My daughter scanned a passport and made individual invitations for each guest with their photo and a description of the ‘itinerary of their trip (aka party)’. I’ve been receiving RSVPs addressing me as the ‘travel agent’.

We have purchased six foot tall cardboard decorations to reflect a number of countries and they will be spotted around our house with food from those nations available to eat at each country (eg. pastries in France, pizza in Italy, chocolate in Switzerland etc).

Thirteen is a funny age, as they want to be independent teenagers yet I still have to make lolly bags for the kids when they leave.

I have a rule in my house that the kids can’t have a birthday party at home between the ages of fourteen and eighteen as these are the years where you run the risk of underage drinking occurring. Over the past few years, my eldest daughters have celebrated their birthday by just going out to dinner with a few friends. Needless to say, my eldest is very excited at the prospect of having a birthday party at our place to celebrate her eighteenth in a few months. I have mixed emotions about it, as I enjoy a party as much as the next person, but I’m concerned over gate-crashers and young adults drinking too much when we are responsible for them. Anyway – I’ve still got a few months to come to terms with that. Right now I need to focus my attention on the international celebrations this weekend – if the kid’s can’t find me, I might be in ‘France’ drinking champagne 🙂

What is the most extravagant kid’s party you have attended?

(Image courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)