We just returned from a lovely weekend outing to the Bay Area Discovery museum in Sausalito. As usual this picture perfect spot was filled with happy, polite, well educated, sylishly attired children and their camera laden parents. McClarens, Bugaboos and Phil and Ted strollers tidily stowed outside each of the play halls and outdoor play areas.
The kids played on the "Build the golden gate bridge" structure, the real golden gate bridge in view behind. This is a great activity, but I was wondering if perhaps to be more current, the musem should erect a "repair the bay bridge" one along side it. "Your challenge for today, kids, fix the bridge in time for the Monday morning commute using only duct tape and a plastic hammer, or face the wrath of 100,000 angry commuters".
These activities prompted us to have a discussion at lunch about careers. "What kind of job do you want when you grow up?" I asked Geekygirl. "I'm going to be a mummy" she replied. Without thinking at all I replied "being a mummy or a daddy isn't really a job, sweetie, you'll need another job too". Then I realized that what I had said might be offensive to the families around me. I'm sure there were plenty of full time parents in earshot. My response also revealed my own inner prejudice, that I hope and even assume that my daughter will aspire to a career as well as to motherhood. Now whether she takes a break from it to have a family, works full time like me, marries a man (or woman) who wants to take on the childcare role, or lets me to take care of the grandchildren while she saves the world, that is entirely up to her, of course, but I fully expect her to get a degree or two and find her niche in the world of paid employement before doing so. The expectations we have for our poor kids. We try to be neutral, but I think we all have them under the surface, ready to pop up in response to an innocent statement, like mine did today.
Geekygirl followed up by telling me that she was going to have five kids. No one could argue that that isn't a full time job, so I changed the subject and we went to the woodland creature play area instead, where the kids aspired to be racoons.
The plethora of McClarens being strolled around the place reminded me of the recent recall brou ha ha. We too were pushing a McClaren, our double buggy, still with the original, uncovered, fingertip severing hinges. I didn't notice any safety covers on anyone else's strollers, so clearly most other parents are not taking the advice of McClaren to "Stop using the strollers immediately". It all seemed rather daft to me, especially once I heard that in the UK, the strollers were not recalled. Maybe British people are more inclined to consider anything with a moving part potentially dangerous, and any accident involving fingers and hinges. well just that, an unfortunate accident. My father still has a scar on his fingertip from where a little girl closed it in a garden gate when he was about five years old. (Her name was Elizabeth, I recall, the story became somewhat of a family legend). The point being that I doubt that there have been mass recalls on garden gates, but I'm sure there have been plenty of fingers trapped in them over the decades
Accidents happen. Sure, manufacturers can and should constantly improve their products, but can we really protect out children from every scratch or bruise? I wish that I could. Just last weekend Geekygirl was running, as she is wont to do, full tilt down our very steep street. And then suddenly she wasn't. She was face down on the concrete. She got up and ran to me, howling. I inspected her from the feet up; knees, unscathed, hands, also looked fine. Then I looked at her face and gasped, a huge egg was rising on her forehead topped with a bloody road rash. She had tumbled so suddenly that she didn't even get her hands out in time. An ice pack and some neosporin later, she was, and is completely fine, but it was a scary moment. These hills are dangerous. Maybe I should write to the city and ask for a "recall" on its steeper streets? maybe they could come by with a grader and flatten it down a little? Or perhaps all San Francisco parents should be issued with crash helmets for their offspring?
Or maybe the only way to learn how fast you can run down a hill is to try, fail and fall.