Child Rearing 101

It amazes me, that with my all the education and experience I have in the realm of child development that there are still many more lessons for me to learn.  I used to tell the parents of the kids in my groups that I taught, that with each child that you have, brings a whole new set of challenges.  What I want to know is, why can’t the first child give you all the experience you need so that it is old hat when the second and third come along?  Oh, no!  Each child has to teach you a brand new lesson.  I mean things like when they decide to cut their hair… or your hair!  Like pouring a water bottle with big sister’s fish in a cereal box, or like hiding a cellphone in the VCR.  The following new child rearing lesson has something to do with a cellphone.  Ugh, I didn’t know those would be such a pain around children.

I haven’t written much about our second child.  She is such a sweet, quiet child who rarely gets into trouble at all, creating a lack of subjects to write about.  I marvel  her because she is not at all the stereotypical second child kind of personality.  You know, the one who has no care in the world and just impulsively does things.  Our first remains to show signs of the typical first born, like responsibility and eager to do the right thing.  Our second and third have seemed to have switched birth order personalities for some reason.

So anyway, my adventure started on a boring same-old, same-old afternoon when our oldest came zooming into the kitchen frantically saying, “The police are here! the police are here!”.  I didn’t know what the heck to think because the police never, ever come to our house.  First, I started to panic.  Roger was 200 miles away at a funeral… what if something happened to him there?  I was so caught off balance and nervous about what was going on, that I forgot to swallow my mouthful of crackers and cheese before I answered the door.  I did manage to remember to swallow it as I opened the door, but I discovered later that I gracefully sported a big chunk of cracker in my teeth the whole time during the following conversation.

There indeed, stood a Sheriff Deputy… Who works in the same building as Roger, and is our neighbor by the way.  He proceeded to ask about the girls.  That’s when I started to panic internally.  The second was at her friends house playing.  Did something happen to her?  Did she get run over by a car or something?  My heart was racing until he said something about a little girl calling 911 then hanging up.  This happened about five times.  The call was coming from around our house.  At that point, I knew it wasn’t from our house, our oldest just plain wouldn’t do it.  The youngest can’t talk as well as what the deputy described.  It was hard to believe that the second would do something like that.   However, she is a fairly shy, quiet girl and one of my biggest fears is that she would let another child convince her to do things that she wasn’t supposed to do, even though she knew it was not right. 

I told the deputy that number two was next door playing with her friend, and that when he was over there, to please send her back home.  I tell you, it was so comforting to see that precious little girl come bounding back through our yards all safe and sound, yet I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her!  All sorts of thoughts about how to handle the situation  streamed through me.  If I made her feel like she was in trouble, I wouldn’t get the full, true story.  If I made it all light and fluffy to get the whole story, the point of how serious the situation would be lost.  Then there was anger and blame.  Why did I let that little neighbor corrupt my precious little girl?  Being a seasoned pre-school teacher, I knew better and that thought didn’t last long.  It is a natural reaction for a parent to think that their sweet, dear child couldn’t be the guilty one, and that the other one is of course to blame.

While I was trying to get the whole story out of a very confused little girl, the teenage sister of the neighbor girl came over and told me what had happened.  An out of service cell phone was given to the girls to play with.  The phone still had a working battery in it.  It is comforting to know that a inactive phone can call 911, still,  not so much if it is called by a couple of little children just playing around.  I don’t know if they actually called the entire number because I have heard that even if you push 9 down for a while, it will still call the emergency service.   I was also comforted to know how accurate the signal was, locating pretty much where it was coming from.  I have worried about that.  Since we use cells most of the time, what if something was to happen and the location couldn’t be verbalized?  This incident, as frustrating it has been, has calmed some of my worries.

Our little girl was devastated.  She was home when the deputy came back and followed up on the incident.  That was enough to throw that sensitive little girl into mild hysteria.  My job was partially taken care of.  Seeing the visit by the law, she knew the situation was serious, so I was able to explain things to her without being too strict.  Although I still don’t think that she was the one who called, we were able to talk about  how that number is only to be used in emergencies.  It was also a good time to talk about if a friend is doing something wrong, and won’t stop even when asked, to just get out and tell a grown-up. 

I am so glad that after all of this nobody was hurt, but I have been left scared to death.  It is good to know that this was all about a silly out of service cell phone, but what if it wasn’t?  What if it was a gun?  I have strict rules about going to neighbor’s houses.  Nobody goes in houses, the neighbors house, or ours.  This is the one day that I let her go in the house because the other child’s room had been re-modeled and she wanted to show it off.  I have not spoken to the kids about gun safety, and if I were to do it today, it would have been an overload of information.  Hopefully, tomorrow there will be a discussion about gun safety and hopefully, an accidental gun injury or death will never, ever be a lesson to be learned in the class of child rearing 101… or 102 for that matter.