Written by Camilla King

Lifestyle

Do we really need to get tooled up for tea-time?

According to child safety campaigners, everyday tea-time is riddled with hazards whose roads all point to A&E. Camilla King is not on board and wishes parents would be given a tad more common sense credit when it comes keeping their kids in one piece.

teatimeMy son’s primary school has just informed me – you might say a little late in the day, given it was Thursday – that this week has been Child Safety Week.

The lovely (if ever so slightly anonymous; am I the only person never to have heard of them?) people over at the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT)  have apparently been placing a particular focus on ‘Tea-time Terrors’ for 2015.

I’m betting any parent reading this will have just felt more than little twinge of recognition on hearing this news. Yes! Tea-time with children is terrifying.

If your house is anything like mine, the last proper meal of the day is an endless litany of: “I don’t like this, I wanted sandwiches” (FFS why didn’t you say so earlier, because sandwiches would have been a lot quicker to make than this lovingly hand-crafted pizza… that’s a lie, the pizza came out of the freezer, but still, I had to risk life and limb to put it in the oven.); or “want water”; “need a tissue”; “need a wee”; “oh I spilt my water”; “more ketchup”; “I broke my Lego spaceship”; “he’s got more than me”; “what’s for pudding?”; and on and on and on and on, until you go and shut yourself in the toilet for two minutes’ peace.

“CAPT would like parents to know that they are just as much heroes as firemen or paramedics, saving their kids’ lives on a daily basis. Sometimes several times per day. Go parents!”

Forget sitting down to eat as a family: be prepared to do 20 laps of the kitchen, spend 40 minutes wiping food off every available surface – including the ceiling – and negotiate pre-bed television in exchange for the kids at least trying to use cutlery. Is it any wonder my husband often arrives home from work to find me slumped in front of the telly, with a whiskey and bowl of cereal on the go at 9pm? It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that 1950s housewives loved their little purple pills so much…

So you can understand my shock when I realised the ‘Tea-Time Terrors’ campaign is not in fact a catch-all for all the crap grown ups have to take from the pint-sized terrors they are serving at the table. Nope, it is instead concerned with the extreme risk posed to children and their carers by that most dangerous of things – duh, duh, daaah – eating tea.

Who knew?

Apparently, tea-time is a time of day ‘when pressures on parents and carers are at their peak’. Now, stop me if I’m sounding like Mother Know It All, but surely it’s just a little bit obvious that when cooking, you need to implore your children not to touch the oven/pull the saucepan off the stove or otherwise harm themselves? Likewise, when near a busy road it’s fairly important to caution your children against running out into approaching traffic. Am I alone in finding all this advice a tad patronising?

CAPT would like parents to know that they are just as much heroes as firemen or paramedics, saving their kids’ lives on a daily basis. Sometimes several times per day. Go parents! Everyday heroes are we!

“Is it any wonder my husband often arrives home from work to find me slumped in front of the telly, with a whiskey and bowl of cereal on the go at 9pm?”

In my experience though, the real pressure points in the day come when you’re likely to be most on the ball. (Surely we all watch our kids like hawks when there are saucepans bubbling merrily away?) What CAPT should be telling us to look out for are those quiet lulls when you think the kids are glued to the TV, so it’s safe to indulge in a little phone browsing. That’s when the inevitable thud will come, as someone falls off the sofa and smacks their head on the floor.

Or when you’re having a lovely chat to a friend at the playground and your son comes flying off the roundabout and lands unconscious on the tarmac. Just me?

As parents we spend about 95% of our time trying to teach our kids the importance of safety and generally not hurting themselves, and it is of course absolutely necessary to set boundaries around dangerous household items.

But honestly, give us some credit for knowing that dishwasher tablets might seem attractive to a toddler, or that stair-gates are useful when your baby begins to crawl. Most parents are reasonably sensible folk, so let’s not over-egg the (steaming hot – WATCH OUT!) pudding, eh?

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Written by Camilla King

Freelancer in the arts. Unwilling expert on Batman, dinosaurs and poo (there are children) and running widow of @UpDownRunner. Lover of music, cake and lady stuff. @millking2301