Safety Zone Connection

by Susan Mann

As the summer months slowly but surely come to a close, so do all the various day camps and other summer vacation options for island kids. As much as children and youth love the break from the academic year, boredom sometimes sets in.

Many of us work outside the home, and are tired at the end of the day when we walk in the front door. Kids still deserve and seek out our time and attention, and it is up to us to have a never-ending supply available. Wow! Here is something you can do with kids at a moment’s notice.

For kids between three and 10 years old you can keep a “bored box” in a special place. Fill it with art supplies, child-safe scissors, paste or glue, pictures from old magazines, etc. — just what ever catches your eye. Then you and your kids can just get out the “bored box” any time you wish and make your own creation. It gives you a chance to spend a little time with them, and they will think you are a genius!

Spending “quality time” together with your children — time when neither of you is watching television or talking on a cell phone, etc. — is one of the really big ways kids know we really care about them. It’s so simple to do, yet we still need to make time for it. Most parents find ways to do this with babies and toddlers. They still need our help with basic things; such as eating, dressing, and so on. We often find ways to make a game out of these necessary tasks. Any one of us who has ever raised up a tiny one knows there are times when what they want most of all is to be held in the arms of their mommy or daddy. They don’t understand that you just worked a 12-hour shift. Besides, they just had a nap, and have waited all day for you to reach down to pick them up!

It’s getting time to purchase school supplies for students. As you may have noticed, the older kids get, the more “picky” they may seem to be about school items. This natural part of growing up can stretch the family budget to its limits. The “sticker shock” alone might send you up to the clinic for treatment! Just joking.

When I was growing up the “back to school” sale flyers were delivered to our rural mailbox address. Since I was the oldest I was usually sent to get the mail, which was delivered to a mailbox some distance from our home. The one I really liked came in late summer, and was from the community, “Ben Franklin Dime Store.” It addressed both my boredom and my parents’ need to find school bargains. I took it right home and studied it, putting a check next to the items I wanted, using a pencil in case I changed my mind. In my world, there was no other place to purchase such things. I suppose it was much simpler.

Nowadays, a St. John parent may get to St. Thomas and find the last, in-stock desired item at the sale price, and feel relieved. That’s when our student may tell us, “…but, mom, I just can’t use that one. No one else uses one like that!” This is a good opportunity to teach your student the art of compromise. You can both come away pleased with the result.

Take for example, a school notebook that is too expensive. Kids need to learn about managing money anyway, so involve them in the process. You might mention something like, you can see why they like that, but there is not enough money to pay for it. Then ask them to tell you what they like most about it. Is it the color, the number of pockets, the size, etc.?  Listen carefully to what they say. We are sneaking in a little quality time, there! Invite them to go with you to find their backpack, one you can afford, and they will be happy with. Thank goodness for school uniforms. At least there’s nothing to debate there.

The Safety Zone sponsored a new youth program called Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol (CMCA) Summer Youth Program. A total of 11 St. John teens came together to learn about underage drinking in our community; to figure out if it is a problem, and to think about what they might be able to do to change it, if it turned out to be a problem.

The kids did a survey and found out that it is a problem here on St. John. Now they are concerned with ways to possibly help make some changes to reduce the availability of alcohol to youth. I went to their closing program, and boy, was I ever impressed! They did original skits, poems and songs they had created as a group. Some were funny, some were serious, but they all focused on underage drinking and its consequences.

I was so proud of these young people, and so was everyone else who attended. If you want more information, or think you might want to involve your teen, just give the Safety Zone a call at 693-7233 (693-SAFE).