Sunday, March 27, 2011

Overprotective or right on the mark?

Cate's class went to the London Zoo last week but I wouldn't let her go with them. I'm trying desperately not to be a hover mother, but I couldn't help myself this time.

My child enjoys her school and the school is great. She's learning a lot and I'm very, very happy with the education she's receiving. But they are not really overly protective of her which annoys me. For instance, I see photos of Cate playing in the playground, in the dead of winter, without her coat buttoned up. They don't oversee her bathroom breaks (no need to elaborate), she doesn't eat much for lunch and often comes home ravenous, they rarely wipe her nose, and with her ear infection two weeks ago, she would have leaks that came out of her ear, into her hair and then down her cheek and neck. I've complained about attention to detail but it falls on deaf ears (oh, the irony).

When they said they were going to the zoo I signed her up and paid the fee and volunteered to go with them as a chaperone. But I was turned down. I had no sitter for X and siblings were not welcome. Therefore I was not welcome.

The rule was to drop my daughter off at the zoo and then pick her up five hours later as they weren't hiring a bus or taking public transportation.

This made me very, very nervous. Cate likes to run ahead, sneak behind things, play hide and seek (when no one else even knows the game is on!) and is basically....just a three year old. She's not shy and does like to speak up but under pressure she clams up. She knows her first and last name and our names but is too young for phone numbers, etc. I was not comfortable, at all, letting her go without Fen or me there to keep an eye on her.

Now, I don't want to knock the teachers or the other parents, but with 35 kids going - it would be easy for my little one to slip away. I thought long and hard about it and decided she was not going. It only takes a second for a life changing accident to happen and if anything went wrong - even if Cate went missing for 10 minutes I would completely lose it. I'd turn into that lion!

According to the Guardian, in 2009 over 500 children were abducted in the UK. Granted the majority are taken by a divorcing parent - but still! She's a cute kid and I want her safe here with me.

This is not to knock the school or it's supervisors - it's all about me and my child. She's too young to go to a huge place like the zoo without a parent. Maybe when she's older she can go on a field trip without one of her parents but for now - no.

Think I was right on this one?

Whatever the case, she had to go to the doctor about her ear anyway, so I took her in the morning and then we went to her favourite fairy store for treats, had ice cream, went out to lunch, went to the playground, had movie night with popcorn and then had a friend over the following evening for late night movies (although all they did was run around the flat and play -which was fine). We took her to the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial playground in Kensington Gardens on Saturday afternoon as well. She was spoiled rotten. And deservingly so. we'll go to the zoo when the weather gets better as well.

Regardless of what anyone thinks - I'm comfortable with my decision and I'd do it again tomorrow.


  1. Spot on! Always err on the side of caution.At that age you can't have too many adults in attendance. Since the school wasn't providing transportation what was the problem with siblings anyway?

  2. Good for you, I think you did the right thing! It's not like she's leading a sheltered life or not mixing with peers regularly. I would have felt the same as you.

  3. She's 3? So this is a nursery, not a school per se then? I'm surprised they're taking them to a busy zoo at that age - I don't think ours did any trips at all, or if they had done then parents would surely have all been invited along. I think you were quite right.

    Hello, by the way. I followed a link from Pond Parleys.

  4. I am going to London with Maxi and the school (she is just 6), if I wasn't going then it would be a big no no. Not because I fear that he will be abducted, I think that there are just as many today as in yesteryear and was allowed the freedom, but the fact is he is my child, I would worry far too much and it is my instinct to protect me, not theirs

  5. Yay for Pond Parleys, spreading the joy! (Mrs. Baum's comments.)
    You say it's all about you and you're not knocking the school, but you are and I agree. If they're not accompanying her to the loo and not paying attention to ear infections etc. then they're not doing their job.
    I tend to defer to teachers and carers as they usually know how to handle things, it's their job. In this instance, you might want to look into another nursery school altogether if you can.

  6. Shouldn't they all be tied together or something with a big long rope? Crikey, who takes a pile of 3 year-olds to the zoo?!

  7. You were spot on. Whenever I did field trips with my kids I only had to take care of mine and one other. They didn't go to the zoo until kindergarten and I'm not sure they went anywhere at 3. As someone else said, sounds like they are not attentive even in the classroom.
    Time to move her.

  8. I don't think I'd be happy with the arrangements either. Coincidently, my daughter was invited to a birthday party at the local play centre on Saturday. When I dropped her off I was advised to pick her up from her friends house. I asked how they would get them back and they replied "we've have 3 cars". 3 cars, 6 adults and 12 kids didn't seem to work to me so I waited around!

  9. I would have done the same thing. There's nothing overprotective about a parent worrying about her 3-year-old! I'd be concerned about a parent who just nonchalantly dropped off their preschooler at the zoo without a care in the world.

    Besides, your daughter will have much more fun experiencing the zoo with you!

  10. Thanks for the support, folks. The reason siblings weren't welcome was because they take away from the student and the teachers wanted it to be their experience - not the siblings. Cate is moving to reception next year at another school. I am still receiving her acceptance letters to different schools but we know where we want her to go and she's in! Here's hoping they're more attentive. If not,'ll hear about it!

  11. Completely agree. We must all listen to our instincts far more, stuff the peer group pressure.

  12. Oh dear, you are probably going to think me a terrible parent. 7 weeks after we moved to France my children (hardly speaking a word of French) went on a classe decouverte, where the entire school - we are only talking 20 kids - went away for 5 days. I was sure that I would never see them again but they returned in one piece having had a fabulous time. There the buses had no seatbelts, the teacher/child ration was about 1-10 and health and safety doesn't exist. Broken bones at school were a regular occurence. It was very alien to what I was used to in the UK but unfortunatel that was just how it was so you had to go with the flow. In some ways it liberated me from my tendancy to be a helicopter parent and probably my children now have far more freedom than some of their peers but I firmly believe that you must do what you feel is right. You weren't convinced about the trip so Cate didn't go. No-one should have a problem with the choices you make for your own child.

  13. You've got to do what you feel comfortable doing. It wouldn't be worth those hours at home worrying if you let her go. I am very free with my kids in some respects but not in others. Here they have waaay too many field trips ...most of which are totally unecessary I think. My husband always says my kids lives are one big field trip - its true they've been to more places than most adults.

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  15. hello, I am so sorry you having such difficult experiences, I love your blog, because I used to live in Primrose Hill and now in Manhattan.

    I find the people here much ruder than in London (not including that horrible man in Regents Park- that sounded awful-sorry)and flippancy tends to be the norm..
    We were first in Nolita and now in UWS and I find it incredibly noisy!Fire trucks, big noisy buses, even the usual honking of cabs. It's taken me ages to get used to the noise here. When I thought the foxes in London, although it does sound terrifying when they call to each other, a lot more bearable as it was a sound of nature.
    And the schools sound lacking with the care of your daughter, when I was at school- in Camden then West Hampstead, all the teachers were very loving, and kept a keen eye on me. I'd get away with what I could at lunchtime thou, I don't have children yet, but I can understand your worries.
    Still perhaps it's where you're familiar.. I'd love for us to be blog buddies, perhaps you can give me pointers in NYC and I can help with London?
    Happy Easter, I'm gonna miss the long Bank Holidays I used to get in England, but loving your 'Peeps'!

  16. I think you were a bit over the top. I am assuming that the school does the same trip every year with success and you are just another one in a long line of moms who have a tendency to overstate their importance in order to justify their existence. I'm afraid we are all trapped with our 'survival' instincts and are in the awkward position of having to dampen them due to the fact that we live in a 'civilized' world.


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