BEST AGE  

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The other day I was pondering when are your kids at their ideal age? I know we love them dearly at all stages and every age is unique but I came to the conclusion the best age is when they are seven!

At seven they are finally able to be rid of those bulky, restrictive car seats that harbour a treasure trove of things from lego pieces, to Barbie shoes to enough crumbs to do a schnitzel dinner. Finally you’re free from the restriction of having to always ensure that if they travel with a friend that they have a spare car seat or alternatively go through the motions of undoing copious amounts of straps to pass over your kid’s seat to reveal a whole new array of items such as sultanas, stray fries and old happy meal toys, hiding underneath. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to not have to deal with car seats again!

Furthermore, by seven, kids are a little independent – they can shower themselves, dress themselves and are skilled in the art of turning on the television in the morning, leaving you to doze (as best you can with the TV blaring) until a reasonable hour. They can ride a bike, swing on a swing without needing to be pushed and can play independently with friends. Parenting just becomes that bit easier.

At seven, they are also not too independent, which means they are too young to let their social lives ruin yours. They just come along with the family to friend’s houses, can be taken to a restaurant and are equally as happy to have a family night in! Once they become teenagers, they develop their own social lives, which inhibits yours, as you are their taxi service.

Homework is also great when they are seven. It’s usually just one sheet they get at the start of the week that needs to be returned at the end of the week, as opposed to high school where homework is a nightly chore. You also don’t need to refresh your quadratic equation and trigonometry skills when they are seven (just a hint – you will by the time they are in high school, so you might want to start studying now!).

One final thing that is great when they are seven is that they are usually missing teeth which leaves them with goofy smiles and a cute lisp whenever they have to say their age (how ironic this stage of life happens when they are ssssix and sssseven).

It’s funny that when they are little you can’t wait for them to grow up and when they are older, you wish you could turn back the clock. I don’t think I truly appreciated my kids being seven at the time, but with hindsight I realise that seven is the golden age!

What age do you think was your kid’s best age?

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

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PUBLIC TOILETS  

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Is there an age when it is no longer appropriate to take a child of the opposite sex to a public toilet? I was lucky my first three children were girls so it wasn’t an issue for many years but over the past year or two my son (age 8) has refused to go to the ladies toilets and quite frankly, I think he is at an age where he should use the men’s toilets. Having said that, it doesn’t ease my fear that he will be molested or abducted the moment he steps foot inside the door of the gents bathroom.

I stand guard outside the men’s room watching every man enter and exit, imagining the worst of each and every one of them until my son nonchalantly returns, usually with his hands dripping and shirt half tucked into his pants. 

I am particularly suspicious of public toilets after I once escorted my daughters to the bathroom where there were two stalls. I noticed a shadow on the floor of the second stall of a man pleasuring himself whilst my daughter was going to the toilet. Ever since then I am on high alert for any sickos that might be loitering.

I know some people use the disabled toilet (which creates issues for people who actually are disabled) and others use the parent’s room if they are fitted with a toilet. Most places don’t have parent’s rooms and I think my son would be embarrassed to use one in any case, so maybe the problem lies with my acceptance that he will have to enter situations where I can’t monitor that he is safe. 

Obviously Dad’s have the same issues with their daughters. I once escorted a little girl of about 3 years of age into the toilet as her father (a man I had never met before) hovered outside. As she went to the toilet she told me that I was a stranger and that she is not allowed to talk to strangers but then asked me to wipe her ‘foofy’ for her. I felt extremely awkward at this point and gave her directions on how she could do it herself so that there was no chance I was accused of touching the girl inappropriately.

I guess to answer my first question of whether there is there an age when kids can go unescorted into the toilets – the answer in a nutshell is no! It comes down to recognising when your child can independently go to the toilet; when your child has the confidence to go into the bathroom by themselves; it relies on your discretion to work out when it may make other patrons feel awkward and finally it relies on the facilities available.

As parents we have to allow our kids to grow and get some independence, but at the same time we need to ensure we are vigilant about their safety.

 

I’d love to hear from other parents. What age did your kids start using public toilets by themselves?

 

(Picture courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

INDEPENDENCE

From the moment you have a child, every parent struggles with trying to give their kids the correct amount of independence, whilst still making sure they are safe.

It starts when they are toddlers and you have to give them space to explore their surroundings without injuring themselves too much. Then the time comes when they start school and you have to trust them to walk to their classroom by themselves. Tiny steps of independence are given, all the while still keeping an eye on them from a safe distance.

What age is it okay to let your children go to a public toilet on their own? When can they catch public transport by themselves? When can they use social media?

Parenting is a constant juggle between wanting to protect your children and letting them grow up. 

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Today I have let my two teenage girls catch the train to town by themselves for the first time ever. I know that if I don’t give them the tools to be independent when they grow up and leave school, they won’t have any life skills. Having said that, I still worry that they will get on the wrong train, get harassed or feel stressed from being in a situation with which they are completely unfamiliar. I will certainly be relieved when they arrive home again this afternoon!

Part of me wants to wrap them up in cotton wool and keep them in a time warp, never to leave home; whilst another part can’t wait for them to have the fun and exciting adventures that come with growing up.

I wonder whether you ever get to a point of not worrying about your kids? I don’t think you do! I think that the things you worry about change and evolve, but with love comes concern and as long as you love your kids, there will always be an element of anxiety over their safety. 

(Photo courtesy of tongdang – freedigitalphoto.net)