Saturday, March 16, 2013

DANGER!

our dangerous life...
I had never heard that word used so much before I had kids in Hong Kong. It seems to the local Hong Kong people that everything children want to do is dangerous.... Even if someone doesn't speak English, chances are they know the word DANGER and will not be afraid to tell me that what my kids are doing fits into that category. 
I think in general we Western moms are more likely to let our kids "run wild" "explore" and "test the waters" of play more that the average Chinese parent. There is quite a lot of coddling in this culture and it seems that everyone (with or without kids) will tell you what is safe for your kids.
I will admit... I have two boys... that can be CRAZY... probably more than average...and definitely more than the kids here, but I still don't get the big deal!
Examples:
1. While at the horse stables last week, we were standing outside the barn. Behind us was a grassy slope (not more than 6 ft) that had a drain. This drain was COMPLETELY covered by metal, and when you walked on it, a banging noise came out... fun huh? NOPE.... DANGER, DANGER said the man giving our tour.... I could understand... too loud, but in no way was it dangerous. WORST CASE: kids falls down onto the grass next to the flat metal he/she was walking on....
2. I often let Jack run ahead of me while we are out... he likes to run and I can always see him so unless its really crowded, jack runs most places we go! This week we were walking around outside (a large open area of sidewalk!) the train station to meet friends mid-morning. The busy time was past, so Jack was about 20 feet ahead of me. As I was walking I saw a women stop him and was talking to him. When I got there she turned and told me how dangerous it was to run there. I asked why... she said this is not a park, no running very dangerous... again I asked how running in a large open space was actually dangerous and she just repeated herself... I could feel us going in circles so we just kind of walked away... I was again thinking WORST CASE... a skinned knee? really? danger?
3. We've been playing a lot right outside our apartment building. The kids like the dirt, leaves and sticks.... ALL forbidden for most children... because DIRTY is another favorite word. :o) Jack likes to try and climb the hill near the bike path where we play. It is steep (and maybe a tiny bit dangerous) but I cannot believe how many people stop and tell us this. I THE MOM am standing right there watching....!!! What do they think is going to happen? I accept any responsibility for what may or may not happen! One women actually tried to scare him from climbing by telling him there were snakes that would bite on the hill!?!?
Worst case? a tumble down the hill, some minor scraps... a good lesson in being careful? :o)
The crazy thing is... I think people are genuinely trying to HELP me... I must look like someone who cannot control her own children and need help...
My outlook is very different.... I believe that letting kids take risks allows them to grow and challenge themselves. They need to explore to discover limits and then push those limits as they get older. I also believe that GOD is in control and worrying about how dangerous and dirty things are will not lead to a happier more fulfilling life. I also realize that with two boys running and germs are part of life. Ultimately, I can be concerned, worried and uber-careful and still have some freak accident happen to me/us. I will not be controlled by fear. Jesus freed us from fear and I will not get caught in the cycle of fear and worry. A friend (Chinese) here heard a story of a attempted mugging in her apartment complex (which has THOUSANDS) of people living in it... picture a small city ;o) She went on to say how she and her 9 year old daughter were now afraid to use the elevator.... I was thinking how safe it is here that that's been in only incident in years in a place where thousands live together...perspective....I will not expose my kids to unnecessary fears, when there childhood should be full of innocence!
So....where does this rant leave me? In the arms of my savior who will always be there.... I will do my best not to expose us to unnecessary danger and HE will do the rest. I am sure I will hear DANGER a thousand more times while were are here.... but we are SO blessed to actually live in such a safe place and continue to pray for those who live lives full of actual dangers and tribulations.
Love and safety to you all!

4 comments:

Betsy said...

That's interesting. I didn't have children when we were in Taiwan, but I feel like it was different there than you describe. Kids who were pre-school age were allowed to do anything. I was thinking they were allowed to "live it up," since once they started school it would be super serious/strict for the rest of their lives!

robinandrich said...

Ugh! My child is 11 weeks old and ever since he was in utero we've been learning to tolerate that word from strangers here! The other words I often here are "careful" and "cold" - two words that make this Northern Minnesota native roll her eyes in a subtropical environment. It's a test in patience and in my personal resilience and confidence as a new mom around here. I'm glad my helper worked with a Western family before us and better understands my need to let Lucas get dirty and take risks as he grows. Perspective is right!

The Paine Family said...

Great post- so true!

my frugal life said...

Oy Vey. And then there's trying to be a (very Western) school nurse in a (very Chinese) school. Good Heavens! The "panic" about EVERYTHING is over the top here. I do NOT understand. I raised my kids like you...dumping them in the backyard to climb trees, eat (dirty)apples off the tree and wade in mud puddles, often(gulp) unsupervised. And my kids survived! The kids are wimps! (There, I said it!!) I actually feel badly for them, and I will never understand a mindset that thinks that this is good in any sense of the word. Sooo...I understand the rant:)

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