It is always an interesting moment when my husband walks through the door and one of my children shouts, "Guess what I did today!" What will they say? Which of the carefully planned educational experiences of the day will make it to the headline spot? All to often it will be something that I had nothing to do with or something that went badly wrong! Today, my middle son greeted his father with the news that he had made his first cup of tea and he was immensely proud of this achievement.
I had supervised carefully and given stark warnings of the consequences of accidents with boiling water. He was suitably cautious of the kettle, checking with me which bits were ok to touch, and treated the whole experience with due respect. Still, there is a voice in the back of my head saying, "Is it really ok for an eight-year-old to be handling scalding water? Would social services intervene if they knew?" I wish there was an answer, a manual I could turn to and find the list of appropriate ages for certain activities: cooking, using a pen-knife, walking to the library alone, owning a mobile phone, having pocket money, choosing whether to leave their coat behind on a cloudy day and so the list goes on. How am I supposed to know? There is no-one to ask and I just have to make my own decision. I guess sometimes I will be over-protective, sometimes I will take risks. I'm just learning along with them.