Yup, that’s my kid, the toddler hanging from the bar above the slide and putting his feet up to his hands? The one sliding down head first and flying off the end like Superman landing on his face and looking up, covered in playground mulch and a huge smile? Yup, that’s my kid, makin’ other moms nervous at playgrounds since 2014.
He’s small but mighty being under the 10th percentile. He didn’t start walking until 18 months but he could climb ladders and hang swinging from the monkey bars and zip lines before he was 1 – and I let him. Not only did I let him, I encouraged him. I may look to others like a careless crazy mom allowing her kid to be risky and dangerous. I know his limits and what he’s capable is. I look at where he is and what he’s attempting and assess the possible outcomes for damage control. If he falls or slips, will he get a bump and a bruise? OK, try it out! Will he break a bone or possibly die? Eh, ok, I’ll get a little closer while you try it out. If he does fall and bump, I kiss the boo-boos and encourage him to get back up and try it again and again and again. I praised the progress, not just the completed feat, and I always have him stop and look back on what he’s accomplished.
Why do I allow my kid to risk life and limb like this? Because I want my child to always be under the false pretense that he can do/accomplish anything. I want him to be strong physically and emotionally and confident and proud and to THINK he’s capable of whatever is set ahead of him. I don’t need to project onto him my own fears. We’re all different people – he loves to spin on those horrid spinner chairs that are what my motion sickness nightmares are made of. He doesn’t need to know what scares mommy. He needs to know that fear is never a reason NOT to try something and I hope this flows into so many other parts of life. Making friendships, taking new classes, making a big move to a new city or starting a new job. Lots of things in life every day are scary but I never want fear to be the reason he chooses not to explore the option. Just as with picking one’s battles I’ll reserve these fears for things like being cautious when going into a public bathroom or not putting your fingers near fan blades. If right now that means allowing – no, encouraging – him to climb to the highest point of the play ground, jump off the slide into the sandbox or climbing along the pool wall edge when you can’t yet swim, I’ll do it. Because it can only make him better, right? I mean, sure, it may also make him bruised, banged up and possibly a little broken, but hey, chicks dig’s scars, right?