Monday, 14 September 2009

Got Any Cotton Wool?

Before I was a mother, a friend sent me that email congratulating me and everyone else born before the mid-80s on having managed to survive childhood (there's now a Facebook Group dedicated to it). We were allowed to eat mud, walk down the street on our own, climb trees and play out until night-fall - all this without choking on germs, being abducted, cracking our heads open or getting lost. 

I remember pelting down Ashbury Drive, Weston on my yellow and blue roller discos.  My cousin, Johnny, and I (we were always the naughty ones) used to skate so ridiculously fast down that really steep hill, right from the very top.  We had no brakes so our only means of stopping was to smash into a wall on the other side of Worlebury Hill Road and just pray that no cars were coming. They weren't.  We used to clamber up the tallest trees in Weston Woods, helping us to more easily plan and plot our homemade maps of that wooded area, which, even back then, I treated as my very own Back Garden.  With my teenage and recently deceased friend, Ma, I spent evenings dangling my legs over the top of the Quarry, watching the town below (no chance of doing that these days; you can't even get near the edge).

And I made it into adulthood! We all did!

Now I've got a child of my own, I encourage her fearless spirit, showing her how to climb those same trees and allowing here to scale the rocks at Anchor Head. I want her to run free and to get dirty from those muddy puddles, jump off the stones.  If she falls, I pick her up, ask her if she's OK and tell her to get on with it.  I make sure that she's safe and isn't taking mad risks, trusting that her own intuition will alert her to extreme danger.

She recently got her first bike; PINK with stabilisers.  She bombs around on it outside the house and takes corners like a teenage boy on a BMX.  Thing is, she also owns a bike helmet, knee pads and elbow pads - did you have anything like that?  We never!  And the truth of the matter is that, even though I don't want her to harm herself (of course I don't!), all this protection is as much for the benefit of others - I mean, imagine all the tuts and looks we'd get without it!!


  1. We use a helmet when we go on the adult bikes, but not on the little ones. I don't care who tuts. Kid vs car? Helmet needed. Kid vs park road? Helmet not so needed.

  2. Great post - I completely agree. And then there's the whole issue of how we managed to survive car journeys rolling around freely in the back seat - and front seats probably! We live in a very 'protected' world - and I'll be joining you in the hunt for that cotton wool as long as I can get away with it!

  3. Did you know that there is more bacteria on your kitchen work surfaces than there is on your toilet seat? hahaha so why am I not dead then? Utter shite, pardon the expression. 40 Hill Road. 18 Hobart Road. 15 Baildon Crescent. Did we have a fridge? What is that. Safety helmet? Walking to WIndwhistle Primary and playing out way past teatime. Where were the hordes of paedophiles? Second hand smoke? For goodness sake 85% of males and 50% 0f females smoked everywhere, even the doctor's surgery. Sorry Rebecca, I was having a little rant. I am sure you know that the older generation is the largest ever, yes, even older than me. How on earth can a human animal survive without an immune system.

  4. When I think of some of the things I have done I wonder how I ever survived. When I was little our toilet was down the backyard. We washed with soap and water and my mother did not use any cleansing products other than simple bleach and Dettol disinfectant.
    We also climbed trees, played by the railway (I never told mum about that) rode bikes all day long and got up to all kinds of crazy stuff.
    When I think about it I should not be here now. Pass that cotton wool.

  5. Just wanted to pop over and say thanks for trying to find us at the Mythical Beast Sweet Shoppe on Saturday- hopefully you'll be back this weekend and won't get poisoned by any of our sweets...

  6. Oh How I love these blogs !
    I was always, forever, playing football on the front street. That was until the time came when there was too much "stop kicking the ball on my lawn" and all that rubbish (we didn't want to play on the park as it had turned into a swamp after 3 weeks worth of rain)
    Funny @timbone mentioned the bacteria thing. I'm currently residing in America where Mothers gasp if they hear a child cough. I remember when I went to school with tonsilitis and nobody really cared about it (even during the school play). How are these kids supposed to build up any kind of resistance without being sick in the first place?
    Let her do all of those things, I don't see the problem, I hope to do the same with my future children.