This is a post I wrote a year ago in January 2014 when my blog was brand new. I was just finding my feet with blogging, but this topic still irritates me immensely. I was really quite passionate about it at the time, and reading back I still am. Although, I’m not sure if I’d have written about it now. So I’m giving it an air to get your thoughts and have linked it up with brilliant blogger Honest Mum’s
I have an impressionable 2-year old who is soaking up literally everything he sees and hears. He mimics everything we say, we do, things that other people say and do. His rate of mental development is completely outstanding, and I can’t keep up.
I try to use as many opportunities to teach him as I can. And this includes the most basic things, for instance crossing the road. Now I know you may be thinking that it is a bit premature to teach a two-year old to cross the road. Maybe it is.
As a driver I see all sorts of nonsense from pedestrians; children and adults alike. For example, crossing the road without looking, pushing pushchairs into the road in front of them when traffic is approaching, getting halfway across the road and realising the other side isn’t clear, not looking when crossing the road, crossing when the pedestrian light is against them. I could go on.
I see many parents crossing the road with young kids, sometimes in really idiotic places, and I never hear them explaining how they’re making that decision to cross. I also know that from as early as I can remember, my dad drummed into our heads the importance of road safety, i.e. don’t be an idiot and do any of the aforementioned things.
Where am I going with this? Well, what I am finding incredibly irritating (to put it mildly) is when we approach a pedestrian crossing, we press the button to ‘wait’ and my toddler gets really excited about the prospect of the ‘green man!’ appearing. And I’m loudly telling him that ‘we press the button and wait until the green man appears before it is safe for us to cross the road’. And while I’m telling him this, some moron from our side or the opposite side decides to make a dash for it while the red man is still lit, in full view of my toddler’s impressionable eyes.
Ok, I get it. They’re in a hurry. There was no traffic coming. It’s their choice to make a decision to cross the road. They don’t owe it to my son to set an example.
But somewhere along the lines, I feel that maybe we all should take some responsibility for kids everywhere and set a good example. Call me idealistic, but I do have strong principles. I know for one that if I approach a crossing on foot and there are little kids waiting to cross with their parents, I will always make a point to wait for the green man until I cross. Actually, I do it anyway, because there is nothing more annoying than driving up to a red traffic light, only to find that the pedestrians who pushed the button are long gone, and you’re waiting at a red light for nothing.
It is already known that children, even teenage children, are unable to judge the speed and distance of vehicles as well as an adult. I have to admit, when I heard this I was very sceptical and rubbished it. Being a former petrol-head (my current ‘family’ car no longer justifies this style of driving), I used to baulk at the speed awareness campaigns, believing that kids should learn not to hang around in the middle of the road where the cars belong.
But parenthood changes you. I have changed. I have changed my driving habits. (No, I don’t have a ‘Baby on Board’ sign in my rear windscreen, nor do I drive at 15mph and hesitate at every junction). And although I still believe that kids shouldn’t be hanging around in the middle of the road where the cars belong, I do understand that they may have difficulty judging what is going on with the traffic as well as I can.
So surely then, do we not owe it to our kids, and indeed all kids to arm them with the best decision-making tools when it comes to being successful, safe pedestrians? So why not begin with the basics at the youngest, most impressionable age? Drum it into their heads that the safest place to cross the road is at the pedestrian crossing, and use the things properly! Set an example for all kids when you’re out and about. Are you really running that late that you can’t wait a matter of moments before you cross the road, and show them that you are also waiting for the green man to cross?
I’d love to know what you think about this.