|My girl running around a lake in the city|
Abbey twirled around as we waited for our friends out the front of a city theatre. Her little dress spun, and she lifted it up as she jumped and danced around.
Another mum, with twins in a pram, walked over and spoke to Abbey. 'Don't do that, sweetie, THE BOYS will see!'
If you want to make me angry, just tell my child what to do. Gets me fired up every time.
'Don't say that to my daughter,' I said.
'What?' she answered, clearly shocked. 'Do you WANT your daughter... (then she looks around before whispering)... exposing herself?'
'Um... she's THREE.'
'Yes, but you never know who's looking.' She gave me a knowing nod, and walked away.
I'm the first to put my hand up and say I'm pretty naive. I've never had to deal with anything terrible, and I've not done anything much 'wrong' in my life. And, while I'll have to face some realistic conversations with my girl one day, I can only use my attitude to life to guide her.
She is yet to know anything of 'stranger danger'. She approaches the world as, in my opinion, a three-year-old ought to: with innocence and fun and not a worry. In terms of dangers, she knows about not touching hot things, how to cross a road, water safety... and that's about it.
My approach to discipline is pretty straightforward, too. If there's a safety issue or a life lesson, then it's worth insisting she does or doesn't do something. But if she's having fun and it offends one person? No. It doesn't work like that, not in my world.
I want to know what sort of life people are living when words such as 'exposing herself' are deemed appropriate to use in relation to a young child? When a child twirling around at her mother's side is thought to be in danger?
A few days later, we were at a busy inner suburb beach and I spotted two girls running around wearing nothing but their knickers. They were, at a guess, about nine and seven, and the smiles on their faces as they ran in and out of the water were beautiful. They were having fun, just enjoying a sunny day with their family. Carefree.
I looked around, this other experience fresh in my mind, wondering if anyone was going to voice an objection to these girls or their parents.
No one did. I saw nothing but smiles as people walked by.
I guess the world isn't so big and bad after all. And it's a relief to know that.