A couple of weeks ago I watched a bloke put his daughter / granddaughter, who is the same age as Isabel, in the front passenger seat of his car & drive off. No booster seat, no car seat. I think he only put the seatbelt on her because I was staring in disbelief (he didn’t put his own on). Anyway, this got me thinking about risk, perceived risk, and why parents choose to take some risks whilst ignoring others.
I’m not completely risk-averse. I stick the kids in the garden while I nip in and out of the house to do chores. They could feasibly eat something unsavoury, sting themselves on nettles, fall down the stupid steps we have that separate our two lawns (this sounds more posh than it is). But I figure they could do all these things while I’m in the garden too.
The other day I went to put some washing in the machine which is in our lean-to utility, and when I came back I discovered Oliver halfway up the stairs. (We’ve reinstated the stairgate.)
But… I have car seats worth more than the car(s) they’re driven around in. I always walk down pavements with my children on the inside, away from the road. I still cut up grapes for Isabel, even though she’s 3 and a half and has been eating other whole foods since the day we started weaning. Breastfeeding, too, could be considered risk-reducing, although my motivation there is more laziness and freedom (from cost, ties to the supplies & clutter of bottlefeeding)
I don’t understand why some parents will spend £300+ on a special “anti-SIDs mattress” only to put baby in their own room; £130 on a special video monitor only to turn it off so baby’s noises don’t wake them; buy a huge Volvo to drive the kids around in but turn babies forward facing at the first opportunity. (These are just common examples, not thinking of any one person or people in particular…)
What if my kids ate something poisonous in the garden or if Oliver had fallen down the stairs? How do we choose which risks are the important ones? It’s all a bit odd really.