Lock them up!
I was coming back from my jog today when I chanced upon my mother walking back with my two nephews from a trip to a nearby park. I walked back with them to the house. The younger nephew, M, is 4 years old now. I missed most of his first two years, bogged down as I was in a particularly difficult period in med school at the time, but saw him a lot of him in the last two years, when my visits back home were somewhat more frequent. Both my nephews are great, and I have a lot of fun with them. Although the older one, S, who is 6 is a lot sweeter, more outgoing, and generally happier a child, it is M whose company I enjoy most. He’s very moody, instantly breaking into a wail when he doesn’t get his way and keeping his sonata going for astonishingly long periods of time, oblivious to the world around him. Rarely, he throws genuine tantrums but mostly he just cries obstinately, although the sound is never annoying.
Today, when I was walking them back home, M would run about 30 feet ahead of us on the sidewalk. I was watching him nervously all the time, thinking of a million and one ways he might get hurt. Someone could screech up in a car and whisk him away. He could bump into someone on the sidewalk. Worst case scenario, he could veer off the sidewalk and start running obliviously towards the road. Past experience has demonstrated that both my nephews are much too smart to do anything so careless, but nevertheless, I kept watching nervously. When it was time to cross the road, I held S’s hand and told him to hold M’s hand so we could cross together. I waited for a break in the traffic and as I saw one, started walking forward with them. M didn’t walk however, but started running and was soon leading me and S. I had started walking before a car had fully passed by us, because I didn’t know if we would get a cleaner break in traffic than that. The car still hadn’t passed us completely and M got about 10 feet of it, scaring the bejeebers out of me. The car passed and we crossed the road safely to get to the separator between the two roads. There was another road to cross, and after the scare I had already gotten, M looked frighteningly chirpy and impulsive, still forging ahead of us. I told him to stop running but he wouldn’t and before he got near the second road, I let out an Almighty yell telling him to stop right now. He froze in his tracks and looked back. I took his hand and made sure the second crossing was much safer than the first. Only when they were finally back home did I relax completely. My mother, who has raised not only four sons, but also many of her younger siblings didn’t bat an eyelid. I envied her conviction that the kids could safely run around in the open outside the house. If I had my way, I’d lock them up inside the house all day and never let them out.