Lately, I have been feeling more aware of the evolving stages of parenthood. With both my children school-aged now, it’s quite obvious that we are well past the baby and toddler years and well on our way to a new stage of raising our kids.
Little reminders of this seem to creep up in the most unexpected ways. One such example happened yesterday when a situation came up as our family was sitting down to dinner.
Behind our home is a wooded pathway that leads to a small playground. It is often frequented by neighbours walking dogs and people cutting through to get to the main road. It can also be, at times, a spot local teens like to hang out. As I put my plate on the table I happened to notice two young people walking around, off of the paved path and amongst the trees. Moments later, my son cried out “fire!”
Sure enough, as I spun around I saw flames and quickly grabbed my phone to call 9-1-1. While on the phone with the dispatcher I could see these two young people attempting to put out the flames, succeed and then walk off, though they lingered in the vicinity until they heard the sirens from the fire trucks.
My husband caught up with the firefighters to ensure they found the spot where the fire had been to make sure it had been put out properly. Thankfully, it had been.
The whole scenario resulted in my son and daughter asking lots of questions, concerned about the safety of our home, their play structure in our backyard and the trees behind the house.
Fire safety is taught at school every year, and my children are at an age when they wouldn’t be inclined to purposefully start a fire (they are 5 and 7 years old). But within 10 years they will be in their teens, out and about with friends without adult supervision, and as much as I trust that I am teaching them right from wrong and how to behave responsibly, I also remember what it was like at that age. Teens can sometimes do things they know they shouldn’t simply for wanting to impress friends or fit in.
We didn’t actually witness these young people set the fire; perhaps it was an accident, perhaps it was intentional. I’m grateful they knew well enough to attempt putting it out, rather than running off. But I have to admit that it’s left this mama a bit rattled. This one incident unfolded within minutes; a reminder of how quickly things can go wrong. If my children one day find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation will they know how to react quickly, responsibly and with a positive outcome?
I used the experience to remind my son and daughter again about the importance of fire safety and they were very quick to say how they would never play with matches or a lighter, and how if they saw a fire they would tell someone right away.
For now, it has left this mama relieved, but it certainly has me being more mindful of the fact that I’m slowly entering different stages of parent life when I’m going to need to have serious conversations with my kids and on a regular basis. As they get older it will be essential for me and my husband to keep communication with them very open and honest.
No matter how much I want to keep them small, my children are growing, which means this mama needs to evolve her parenting skills and continue to trust that she is giving her kids the guidance and knowledge they’ll need to grow into kind, responsible young adults.
As I go through these different stages of motherhood, I am learning more and more to think quickly when teachable moments arise, since I believe it’s important to take advantage of these scenarios when they’re timely, and especially when they’re unexpected.
How do you handle transitions through stages of parenthood? Share your tips and advice in the comments!