07 August 2011

social commentary sunday . . . 'who do you allow to drive your children'

Greetings all,
On my weekend off (thanks for the comments) . . . Saturday afternoon i spent 4 whole hours collecting various children (mine + extras) from sleep overs/ parties & redistributing them across Canberra . . . it was pouring with rain, hazardous road conditions & crazy traffic on my 150km round journey . . . i pondered why people let me drive their children around??  Apart from the obvious convenience & my availability.  Ok, so they know me well, i'm a slow safe driver, not into road rage & i don't drink/ smoke/ drug myself + i have an 8 seater car with enough room for a pool & a pony . . . i rarely attend a sport/ social/ school event with just my own children, parents trust me with their precious cargo, i honour that trust. 
BUT . . . this is an age of self medicators & DUIs - not just celebrities - but real life mummies, behind the wheel of the family car, on the school run, at 9a.m.  On Friday afternoon this news story broke . . . the shocking single car crash of a woman, driving unlicensed & DUI, with a drunk male passenger who was arrested on the scene + . . . wait for it . . . 10 . . . TEN . . . 10!! small children sharing the back 5 seats!!  It was utter chaos & amazingly, with only ONE child in a seat belt, none were killed.  Still . . . what the hell?? 
Damn straight, it was no Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car trip for those 10 children!!  My first thought, who on earth is going to watch/ care for all those children in hospital/ babysit them??  Were the drunk driver & passenger the parents of all 10 children??  Who the hell let their children get in that car without enough seat belts & with drunk drivers?? 
NOW our school has many additional excursions (sport/ language/ representative type stuff) which require 'private transport' (teacher/ parent drives them in their own car) as stated on the premission slip you sign.  I have volunteered each & every time to drive my own children.  More often than not, at the last minute it's "Mrs McClelland, do you have room for half a dozen more children??"  I don't know if it's Ok with their parents??  Often i don't even know the children.  So i've been making noise about this & now the school asks for a current driver's license & car insurance, but . . . no breath test to check i'm sober.  I have requested, like pilots, parents/ teachers in the 'private transport' role should at least sign a note saying they will not part take in any alcohol/ drug use 24 hours prior to the excursion start time.  Response: wishy washy about a breach of privacy & that the untrained office staff "can just tell if someone is under the influence".  I will continue to push this issue & continue to drive my own children thanks.
 
When you are a stay at home mother, your children may not have ever travelled with anyone else.  When i was an oil baroness/ mining magnate in the Northern Territory my first born had a nanny & when she asked if she could take my baby in her car, she explained at length - car safety, 30 year driving record + exactly when & where she was going with my child.  I trusted her & her 1970's solid steel Saloon, each trip had permission in advance.  Since we started school, my guys have been in special event car pooling situations & i'm comfortable with that, still, i never put myself on the spot to make a decision about my child's safety. 
 
Not only would i let Miss Truly Scrumptious drive my children around, i'd let her raise them too, she was . . . truly . . . scrumptious, like Mary Poppins with prettier clothes.  But would you??  Are you comfortable with your teenage nephew tossing a car seat in the back of his car & cruising around with your baby??  What about your parents, neighbour, sister or babysitter??  Or a mum/ teacher from school??  Have confidence, it's your child, if it doesn't feel right in your bones, it's so totally Ok to say no, without looking like an over protective/ untrusting/ difficult mother.  Your child, your choice - all the way to them getting their own license.  Then there will be a stage where you won't/ don't/ can't be in the car with your child driving you!!
Happy Sundays everyone, drive safely, precious cargo & all, love Posie

20 comments:

ally said...

Great timing for this post Posie - - my daughter has been invited to a party tomorrow and the father has hired a mini-bus to transport 11 6 year olds. They should still be in booster seats! And I know nothing about his driving record.
I've been feeling uncomfortable about it all week adn tonight a friend and I have decided to drive our girls separately but one of the other mums is making us feel guilty about it.
So many pitfalls to parenting!!

Mary said...

You are absolutely correct. My kids are much older....driving themselves. But I would always say no to folks wanting to car pool...I didn't want to worry about someone else driving and I didn't want them to have the destraction of too many kids in the car. Worry should not paralyze us, but it is good to consider the possibilities of what could happen and try to minimize the chances.

yardage girl said...

I totally agree with you - precious cargo indeed. I was thinking the same thing when I saw that news story - 7 of the kids were her own (poor little things - one was 6 weeks old) but 3 of them were someone elses - sometimes I wonder if you should maybe have to sit some sort test to become a parent ... words fail me.

Jodie said...

and then your children have friends who reach the driving stage .....and the questions arise all over again.

Tas said...

I think my jaw is still on the ground at that news story.

I have moments of total paranoia even when my kids are with trusted people because I know that fate can intervene at any time so there is no way I am going to add unknown factors into the mix when it comes to my kids' safety.

Oh, and with regard to Ms Scrumptious' credentials, don't forget that her dad owned a lolly factory. That's got to count for something too ;)

Felicity said...

First of all - where was that much needed rest ala time to yourself weekend!?!

You really are a giver Jennie and it's not difficult to know why it is that you are 'the chosen one' to take other people's kids to all sorts of events, I bet you even play up-to-the-minute music and have great chats along the way!

As for all that you've written about with regards to other people and safety we are in for some interesting times ahead in the next couple of years as the eldest merges into the land of driving - eeeeek! I don't know if I'll feel confident putting our own children in the passenger seats let alone anyone elses!

We are sticklers for seatbelt safety and our kids are probably in the minority amongst their friends in not being allowed to sit in the front passenger seat until they are at least 10. They know it, there's no fuss, but I do see a lot of other Littles [under 5's] stepping out of cars from the front passenger seat.

Excellent post my dear, now rest, read and recover tomorrow!

xx Felicity

Leonie said...

Totally agree! And for me its not just who drives my child, but where my children go for playdates or sleepovers.
Our school is very diligent about signed forms of drivers, including drivers licence, car registration and warrant of fitness. But no way of knowing if these parents are sober. Fortunately, I can attend the school trips.

CHD said...

Glad to hear what other parents do. For school/kindy trips I always insist on knowing who the parent help driving my child is and if I don't know them or trust them, I go myself. My kids take boosters with them too- often the only ones. Our children are too precious to risk. Great post. Cx

A Room For Everyone said...

Hi Posie,

What an amazing blog you have, I really love the way you write! I was very happy to hear from you because of course I've heard of Posie Patchwork but never got around to visiting.

I don't let anyone drive my 4 & 5 year olds yet, I know I'll have to let go eventually..perhaps when I know all the mums and dads a little better! I'm the only one at preschool who doesn't and I'm not sure what everyone thinks but that's not what matters! Rachaelx

clare's craftroom said...

I have said no often and have been accused of wrapping my children in cotton wool . So what they are my kids!My kids aren't even allowed in the car with their grandparents driving outside of our little town.It has just been accepted that they are old and maybe a bit slow to react .

Tin Can Daisy said...

Excellent post Posie. I agree with everything you've said and I'm often amazed at how some people can be so blase about their child's safety.

First House on the Right said...

Love how you included all the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang pics in your post :) Nicolex

Tiff said...

Oh... Hard one, I am just starting to face that issue. Since moving to the burbs earlier this year... it has become something to consider. I think where it gets really tricky is when they have friends who drive... Yikes! That is on the horizon! Anyway Posie, I am sure if you were closer I would pick you to be top of my yes list! Happy week! X

Christine said...

I saw this news story too - shocking and unbelievable!! I don't know how a person could place all these kids in that kind of situation. We live in a small community and luckily haven't had to rely on much transport from other parents. I would feel quite uncomfortable about 'private transport' for excursions, thankfully this hasn't happened yet. You have a great point about being tested before driving.. we all have to have 'working with children' checks to help out in the classroom, I see this as a logical step for excursions. Stick to your guns! :)

Tania said...

That’s precisely my criteria - the feeling in my bones. And since my bones get pretty anal about suchlike, I do a LOT of driving around. Great post, P.

polkadotpeticoat said...

I have a million funny responses to this great post it must be the paint fumes so I will be good!
Love ya, till next time I am almost one Yeah!!!

Tania McCartney said...

Don't even start me on this. I actually tell parents of my playdate kids I would prefer NOT to drive them around in our car (and I'm safe, sober, have seatbelts and am totally responsible!). I would also prefer to drive my own kids to and from playdates - I just think it's such a huge responsibility to drive around the children of other people, no matter the circumstances. I think it's ok to do, but I must admit, I do try to avoid it if I can.

This crash with 10 kids is just horrendous. What are people doing out there?! What is going on in the world!?

This doesn't just extend to cars - my 10 yo went on a recent playdate and I later discovered she was left to wander a major city shopping centre ON HER own with her 10 yo friend, with a wad of cash.

Like I said, don't even start me...

Working london mummy said...

a really interesting point. I never thought about it but I think I would be really cautious and probably drive myself or send husband. As you say this is the most precious cargo of all

Marcia (123 blog) said...

LOL love this post.

We had a church camp announced for 8 - 12s and the cost includes transport, etc. so I leaned over and said to D, "when our kids are old enough for the camp, you'll have to drive them there and fetch them. No telling how those people drive" :)

My Love is..... said...

OH! I totally forgot you were in canberra! I was there last weekend with my 3 cuties intow :( Better planning required next time I think ;)
PS....Perfectly written post...our children our choice....perfect!