Lecture series: Maternal instinct just want to keep kids safe

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2018

By Lynn Hall

Do you know what the best thing about having grandchildren is?

Well, actually, there are a lot of great things, but the very best is the moment when your own children look at you with real admiration and admit (for the first time in their lives) that you were in fact right. By right, I mean that moment when they realize everything you ever told them when they were children was saturated with wisdom. It’s that enlightening moment when they are filled with remorse and wondering if you can ever forgive them for all the times they rolled their eyes and tuned out, convinced you were three cards short of a full deck.

This “Mount Everest” of peak maternal moments is when that newborn is placed in their arms for the very first time. Suddenly all those lectures on why you don’t jump off the deck onto a trampoline, why you don’t run on the wet concrete around the swimming pool and why you don’t nap with gum in your mouth make perfect sense.

It’s a trusted fact that mothers are obsessed with the idea that you will “poke your eye out” if you run with that stick, “break you neck” if you don’t stop jumping off the top bunk bed and “go blind” if you stand that close to the television. Mothers are full of dire predictions. It’s just part of our DNA. Once those children are here, we transform from carefree, fun-loving and adventurous individuals into uptight creatures overcome with misgivings and real paranoia. I was quite famous in our household for the lengthy lectures I could give on almost any topic related to appropriate child behavior.

I wish I’d recorded some of my more famous ones like:

No. 15, which had to do with Sharpies and wallpaper;

No. 58, about scissors and cutting your own bangs;

No. 148, all about leaving shoes, toys and other deathtraps on the stairs;

No. 236, on the relationship between a coiled piece of wire intended to look like a snake left just outside door from the house to the garage and heart attacks;

No. 334, on why mothers start foaming at the mouth when they find freshly washed clothes (often still folded) in the laundry hamper because putting them away in drawers was deemed too much trouble;

And of course No. 410 (one frequently repeated) on making sure to take off both shoes in the same location each night in order to avoid running to the bus stop the next morning wearing two different shoes and potential elementary school traumatization.

It is unbelievably satisfying to know that while you were sure at the time that you could just as well be talking to the closet door, at some subconscious level they were absorbing what you said. As parents themselves, they now understand your perspective and appreciate that it was all about keeping them safe. As parents, we want to help our children avoid all those unnecessary learning experiences like “yes” the stove is hot, “yes” you will step on something sharp if you don’t wear your shoes outside and “yes” following another car too closely can lead to rear-end collisions.

Perhaps I wasn’t wasting my breath all those years ago. Maybe my children will be more successful in preparing their offspring for the hard-knocks ahead because of those well-intended lectures.

Just kidding. Why will their children be any different? What I need to prepare them for is all that eye-rolling and closet door lecturing.