I have been wondering what is a good age to teach my children about when to dial the emergency services. Mapera (aged 4 and 3 quarters) has had visits at Kindy from the fire service, who have taught the kids "Get down, stay low, get out and stay out" and to "meet by the mail box" but no mention of calling for help. I am on my own in the house a fair bit as Tareka works shifts and although we have neighbours around, they are a few paddocks away on one side, and over a main road the other.
I have talked to Mapera about the emergency number here (which is 111 incidentally), and that she should only ever call it if it was a REAL emergency (she is very aware of the difference between pretend and real), but I'd like to give her a simple system, like the fire service gave about what to do in a fire, just in case something happened to me, and I couldn't direct her.
Just tonight, Kaitereo went to bed early as she was exhausted, and Mapera went in after Kaitereo had fallen asleep, only to come out saying "Mummy, Kaitereo's not even breathing". I leaped out of my chair and ran to Kaitereo to check her, and found her sleeping very soundly, but breathing just fine. My first instinct was to tell Mapera off for scaring me, but I stopped myself and gave her a big hug and said "thank you for coming to get me". I showed her that Kaitereo was fine, and Mapera was worried that her sister had been sleeping with her face down, and Mapera couldn't see her tummy moving at all. I told her that I was very pleased that she had come to me when she was worried, and that it was good because if Kaitereo had not been breathing then we would have had to call an ambulance. I gave Mapera lots of cuddles and said that I had been very scared when she told me, but that I was glad Kaitereo was ok and that Mapera was looking after her little sister.
When did my child grow into such a caring, responsible person? She's not even 5 yet! We encourage both our girls (and will do the same with our boy) to look after others who are younger or smaller than them when they are at playgroup or Kindy, and that when Mapera and Kaitereo are together that Mapera is to look after her sister if she gets scared or shy. I initially worried that I was putting pressure onto Mapera as the older child to take on responsibility beyond her years, but she loves being in charge, and Kaitereo is a lot happier knowing Mapera is around for a cuddle if she wants one.
Long may it continue :)