Phoebie, my firstborn, likes to share with me about what happens in school and what her friends talk about. It gives me an insight to her social life and what children are into these days.
This evening, it was no different. I was doing some things in the kitchen and Phoebie came in to talk to me.
“Mummy,” she started, “Let me tell you something funny about Robert and Joey.”
(To protect the identity of Phoebie’s friends, I have changed their names.)
“Oh? What did Robert and Joey do?” I asked, as I carried on with my things.
“Robert said that he is Spider Man, so Joey told Robert, ‘If you are spider-man, then you should jump down from the fourth floor to the first floor.’ Robert is not really Spider Man,” said Phoebie.
Anything that concerns safety always raises the alarm in my head. I looked at Phoebie. She was smiling as she was telling me this, as though she found it funny.
“Phoebie,” I said, “It is not funny to ask someone to jump off a building. The person who jumps off can get seriously hurt or even die.”
Phoebie’s face changed a little. “Come, let me show you an experiment,” I said.
“Ooohh… I love experiments,” Phoebie was excited.
I laid a plastic bag on the kitchen floor and took a raw egg from the fridge. “Now,” I said, “Pretend this egg is Robert, and pretend that you are Joey. Robert says ‘I am Spider Man!’. Now, tell Robert to jump off from the fourth floor.”
“Robert,” Phoebie went along with my little “experiment”, “If you are Spider Man, jump off from the fourth floor to the first floor.”
“Okay. Now, pretend that where my hand is, is the fourth floor. Watch the egg Robert ‘jump off’ the fourth floor,” I said, and let go of the egg.
Phoebie watched as the egg hit the plastic bag on the floor and broke.
“That’s right,” I said, “And this is what will happen to Robert if he really listened to Joey and jumped off from the fourth floor to the first floor. Robert would get very badly hurt or even die. So Phoebie, never ever tell your friends to do something so dangerous. At the same time, if any of your friends ever ask you to do something like that, remember this egg. DO NOT do something so stupid.”
“You said the S word,” Phoebie said, surprised.
“Yes I did, because this is really stupid, so please DO NOT listen to anyone who asks you to do it,” I said. “Now, what do you think you can tell Robert and Joey? They are your friends and you care about them right? What can you tell them?”
“I should tell Robert not to do it because it is dangerous and he could get badly hurt or even die. I should also tell Joey not to tell other people to do such things,” said Phoebie.
It sounded like Phoebie understood what I had demonstrated. “Good, I’m glad you understand this,” I said. “And thank you for telling me about this. I’m glad you did.”
The more I thought about what Phoebie shared with me, the more bothered I was. I mean, sure, it was probably just innocent Super hero talk amongst young boys, but the thing about kids is, they sometimes don’t understand consequences.
I was also concerned that Phoebie would be considered a tattletale if her friends knew that it was Phoebie’s mum who brought up a “small” matter like this, so I also raised this concern to her teacher. Her teacher assured me that she knows how to weave the topic in without revealing who had said what.
I’m thankful that Phoebie’s teacher didn’t think of it as an unimportant matter and agreed to look into it.
Call me a busybody mum, but when it comes to safety, I’m not taking any chances. I would rather be a busybody mum than to possibly have to live with guilt should anything happen.
I would also rather my daughter understand the consequences of listening to friends or following through with certain dares, than to have to deal with the consequences itself later.