My family and I just had our annual week at the cottage. Now that my kids are getting older, cottage life has gotten easier. No longer do I wish for a baby gate around the lake and gone are the days of me following toddlers around the entire week.
But we certainly don’t have this safety thing all wrapped up just because they’re older. Older kids are more independent and mine like to go off exploring and visiting little friends around the lake. This year I felt like I had to keep an eye on my headcount. The thought of one of them getting lost in the woods makes me shudder.
So, I set up a few simple rules & tools that helped keep my stress levels down and my kiddos all accounted for:
If going exploring, don’t go alone. Always bring a sibling and if you happen to get lost, you STAY TOGETHER.
I reminded them of the “Hug a Tree” program. When a child is lost in the woods, they tend to wander, bringing them further away from home. I advised my kids that the moment they feel lost, they find a comfortable tree and stay with it. Chances are, they are not far from the cottage and it’s easier to find a non-moving target!
My kids don’t have cell phones, but even if they did, we are so far in the bush that there’s no reception. We use walkie talkies, which are both fun and a great way to stay connected if there is a problem.
When you hear the bell, you head home. We have a big dinner bell that echoes through the lake. When I feel like I have not seen a child for a while, I ring the bell and they wander back. I count six little heads and send them back off to their adventures.
If a kid is going off exploring, have them wear a whistle around their neck. It’s a great way to locate them if they go off track, and whistles are good for scaring off the bears as well.
In the end, we survived the week and I managed to bring home the same six kids I left with.
Are you a family that camps or cottages? What measures do you put in place to ensure their safety in the bush?
Earlier this week, a mom in the autism community reached out to me for some ideas or suggestions for dealing with a difficult neighbor. Her son, who is quite severely affected by autism, has recently developed a verbal tic/stim. Often verbal tics/stims present as loud, unusual, and random sounds.
Apparently this neighbor finds the verbal tic annoying to listen to when the little guy is playing in his backyard or swimming in the pool with his family. So annoying, in fact, that he regularly calls the police to report the child. When the police arrived the other night, they actually suggested the parents try to restrict the time their son spends outside—to keep their neighbor happy.
Yes, you read that correctly—his parents were asked to keep their son inside so he doesn’t make noises that upset his neighbors. Needless to say, their young daughter was left crying inconsolably because the police were at her home to deal with an issue her brother is unable to change.
It is nothing short of disgusting that a neighbor would be so intolerant of a child’s disability that he feels compelled to call the police. Equally disturbing is that the police found it appropriate to suggest keeping a young boy confined to his house, because his disability is an “annoyance” to the neighbors.
My first question was whether the mom had spoken to the neighbors about the issue. She told me they weren’t interested in listening. Whenever she has made an attempt to explain her son’s behavior, she is shut down and met with, “Yes, yes…we KNOW he’s autistic!” How’s that for empathy? I wonder how this guy would go living next to us—with six kids, our backyard noise levels are off the chart.
But this is about more than a cranky neighbor; this is about intolerance for disability. And for that, I’ve got two dozen eggs in my fridge that are looking for a good home on the outside of an idiot’s house. Anyone care to join me?
How would you respond if this was your neighbor? Have you experienced, or even heard of anything like this?
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