What Would You Do?
Posted 29 July, 08on:
Just heard another story of a school bus driver leaving a small child in the wrong place. This child was dropped off at the wrong stop, MILES from his home. He was the only child dropped off at that stop, no other children to help him figure what to do. He had to walk a half mile to the closest house, knock on the door, and ask a total stranger for help. He is only 5 years old….his first day of kindergarten. Poor baby. The homeowner was able to get enough information from the child to contact the mother. It had been over an hour of torture for her, not knowing where her child was. This story had a happy ending, but it easily could have gone very, very wrong.
As your little ones get ready to return to school, talk to them about what to do if they get off at the wrong stop, if you are not there to meet them at the bus stop, if you are not home when they get home. Have a plan. Write up a little index card with emergency phone numbers. Include your home number, cell, spouse’s work & cell numbers, trusted friend/neighbor, the school’s number. Include several numbers because you never who will be available. Laminate the card or put it in a zippered plastic bag. Put the card in your child’s lunch box, binder, folder, backpack. Put it someplace where your child can find it. You will have to remind your child from time to time because, in all likelihood, the card will be never needed. That makes it very easy to forget.
Walk the route from the bus stop to your house with your child. Point out the houses along the way where he can stop for help. Help him find visual clues to help him remember who lives in each house. Take a walk through the neighborhood to say “hello” to people who might be home to help your child. Let your child know where to go if you are not home to greet him. To avoid causing anxiety, don’t say things like, “if i get into a car accident and can’t get home….” Go for “If I get stuck in traffic…..”
To keep these types of plans and cautionary tales from slipping out my children’s heads, we often played the “What Would You Do” game. We usually did this in the car because the boys were a captive audience and we didn’t have a whole lot else to do. The waiting room of the doctor’s office was another favorite forum for this game. To play, you ask someone “What would do if…..” I would start out with some silly or fanciful questions like, “What would do if your bed suddenly started to fly,” “you woke up with green hair,” “you could pick a super power for only one day.” Then I would slip in the more serious ones like “if you got off at the wrong bus stop” or “there was a fire in the middle of the night.” Of course, the boys loved turning the tables to ask me questions. It was a nice way to slip in the important stuff without making it a big deal.