When it comes to my kids, I’ve always been super safety conscious – and I know you’re the same. We were always the ones who triple checked our children into their carseat harnesses, sun blocked them to within an inch of their lives and God forbid that they be allowed in the front seat or wearing a lap belt! This was never difficult of course, most parents around us had similar beliefs and local safety standards certainly supported our ideals. (Ideals can be difficult to maintain of course, I wont forget the day years ago when I triple checked that baby Olivia was strapped safely into her car seat, only to have completely forgotten to strap the seat itself into the car – something that became only too clear as I took a left turn bend a little too fast and her car seat cartwheeled across the width of the backseat before I could stop – poor child was rather startled, but still safely strapped into her seat!)
Over here, child safety, and in particular road safety, is a bit of a challenge for this kiwi mum. Remember that fantastic week we shared in Rarotonga? You and I both managed to put aside our safety ideals and let loose a little – my kids sat five across the back seat of an open-top car without seat belts, and you were seen letting you hair blow free on that scooter as you zoomed around the island without a helmet! Over here, electric scooters are the mode of choice for many families to get around – local and foreign alike, and just like Rarotonga, helmets are a rare sight!
Those pictures we’ve all seen on our screens, of comically overloaded Chinese scooters navigating city streets – let me assure you, those are all real! That could be any Chinese street on any day! Traffic is wild here, its fast and it seems chaotic – but somehow its not, I haven’t seen a crash yet and I haven’t noticed any dented vehicles either, I can only conclude that the Chinese are excellent drivers – but they drive very differently to what I’ve seen before.
The issue facing me now, is that Ross is about to buy a scooter, and I don’t for a second think he intends to buy any helmets to accessorise with. It’s a case of ‘when in Rome’ on this point, but it’s a hard one to swallow – these aren’t the quiet island roads of Rarotonga, these aren’t the predictable, rule following drivers of New Zealand. This is China, where it’s a little scary crossing the road.
In the weeks to come, I predict that my children will be riding on the back of a scooter, through traffic, gleefully joining their father on some excursion or another. I think its my job to let go a little, have a little faith in Ross’s driving – in everyone’s driving – and let them participate in what is a normal part of life here for all of the kids. So think of me, chewing my nails down to the quick while Ross takes one of the kids down to the shops. But trust me Robyn, the helmet conversation isn’t over quite yet!