Before, when I heard of people talking about the school ‘run’, I did not think they literally meant RUN.
I assumed that the ‘run’ part signified the travel to school, not the actual mode used to get there.
Although, I am sure there will be occasions where running is a time necessity due to disagreements over teeth brushing, tv watching or long drawn out breakfast decisions, but this has yet to be the case for now.
Since I no longer also have a mad dash across town to the office to contend with, we have found ourselves with a whole extra hour in the morning.
I seem to still spend most of it peering into the dishwasher. Our laundry mountain has also doubled in size, but this could be because I am seemingly now the only person responsible for washing it.
No, the running is out of choice. Not mine you understand.
The running is for FUN. Again, less so for me.
The term started so well.
In fact, the first week or so was positively lovely. We’d walk hand in hand together, swinging our arms and kicking leaves.
7-minutes later, we would arrive at the school gate, where I would hand my baby over to his lovely teacher who would be waiting to escort the reception year children into their classroom.
He lined up nicely with all his new little classmates.
He blew me kisses goodbye.
I would squeeze him, wish him a good day, and reassure him that I’d be there to collect him on the first sound of the home bell.
After school, we’d stroll back home down the hill together and I’d bribe him with the promise of a chocolate biscuit if he would tell me just ONE THING about his day.
Dinosaurs, was about as much as I could get out of him.
Then as the weeks went on and his confidence grew, he started to recognise some of the other children on the walk to school and he no longer wanted to hold hands, swing arms, or kick about in the leaves.
Well, not with me anyway.
Problem is, he is not very road savvy and our route is on a very, very busy one.
While running off after his friends, he looked back laughing and would veer off diagonally towards the oncoming traffic. I would catch up with him and pull him back on course, but even when running in a straight line, he is still so excited that he does not think to stop when the pavement ends. I am right there next to him, but it absolutely terrifies me.
One day last week, I was there to collect him as usual when he BOLTED like lightning away from me, LEGGED it out of the school gate, ran off down the hill and started making his way towards the street so quickly that for a few seconds, he was completely out of my line of vision.
I chased after him, gave him a stern talking to and then insisted he hold my hand for the rest of the walk home, which he refused to do. So, because he would not hold my hand and because I could not trust him to stop when I instructed him to, I had to carry him kicking and screaming the rest of the way.
I tried to talk to him about road safety without completely traumatising him. Explained that cars drive very quickly and because he is still so small, they might not see him in the road, so he must always hold a grown-up’s hand to be safe.
More importantly, he must listen to Mummy and when I shout STOP, he must do so immediately.
I’m not sure he really understood as every morning, he will still try to wriggle free from my hand.
But, if I do let him go off-lead as such, he’ll just dart off like a rocket and I’ll be white with fear until I catch him up.
So, as a compromise, I have started to run alongside him with my hand tightly gripping his.
It is not quite the picture postcard image of mother and young son, kicking rusty coloured leaves in the Autumn breeze.
Our walk/run is uphill, so 7-minutes or not, it is not unusual for me to break a sweat.
I look at other children skipping happily a few feet out in front of their parents, stopping at every crossing and waiting patiently until a grown-up takes their hand.
When safely deposited on the other side of the road, they skip off again, never straying more than a few feet away. Parents greet each other with a cheery hello and comment on the very changeable weather we are having at the moment.
I don’t actually know if the weather is what they are discussing, as my main communication thus far has been ‘Excuse me, coming through’, as I brush past them after a wayward 4-year old.
However, I’d love to know what their secret is.
Did they all attended road safety classes while I was at work, or watching Eastenders? Was the date marked in the red inoculations book after ‘pre-school booster’ and I just missed it?
I guess in much the same way as with crawling, walking, talking and potty training, children learn and develop at different rates. Doesn’t mean he’s never going to get there, just might need a bit more encouragement and patience from me first.
This weekend, we are going to work on his listening and stopping skills within the safe confines of the park gates.
And, I am going to work on my lap speed.
Do you have any advice to impart on how to talk to a 4-year old about road safety? Please…