By Kendell Cobb
Like most mothers, I was fearful of what the big bad world had in store for my children and was a “prepper,” readying-up my family long before I realized it. Not the extreme prepper type with an underground bunker and AK-47’s, but I did stockpile non-perishables and supplies, had all kinds of exit plans depending on the crisis and trained my daughters how to handle various situations and to think on their feet to survive. My girls showed me what they were made of when we faced our first big challenge.
We were attending Caribana for the first time. It’s an enormous annual parade in Toronto held on the QEW highway, parallel to Lake Ontario that draws locals and visitors from around the world. We had never seen anything like it before. Our senses were engaged—live bands were playing soca, reggae and calypso from floats; costumes were themed, bright and outlandish- men, women and children were dancing and gyrating from the floats as well as those that followed behind on foot, some with giant head pieces with feathers and shimmering body make-up; spectators were just as much of the show; food vendors lined the highway tempting attendees with tantalizing Caribbean flavors that wafted through the air. We were mesmerized.
Our festivities came to an abrupt end when gunshots rang out. The crowd panicked and stampeded down the highway and on the grassy shoulders. It was mayhem. When I looked down to grab my children, my eldest was climbing up a tree. My little one had the same idea that I did and we dropped and rolled under a parked Econoline van. While grown people were running in the herd like sheep and being trampled, my daughters had presence of mind to think quickly and independently in a crisis situation. It was a proud moment, amongst many, that I’ll never forget!
From the time my girls were very, very young, they were taught to think critically and independently– a very conscious decision. I knew it was key to their survival in all areas of life.
As mothers, we are usually our children’s first teachers. Obviously, how we handle this overwhelming responsibility will greatly influence how our children grow, how independent and confident they are and how they handle stressful or dangerous situations. Children should be taught skills that match and challenge their abilities. Sometimes these lessons or skills come organically as you go through your day. Some lessons will be cerebral- well thought out and planned, others physical. Both are important.
Some children don’t enjoy or excel at sports, but your child must be physically fit to be able to endure what may come. (My daughter was safely up in that tree in seconds!)
My upcoming posts will explore family-focused techniques that we moms can use to prepare our families that are inclusive of our children at their various ages and stages.