Hold up…before anybody gets up in a tizzy and reports me to the authorities for my title, hear me out.
When I was about 7 years old I stubbed my toe on our driveway and knocked about 1/8 of an inch off the top. No, it wasn’t a scratch or a stubbed toe; I’m talking O-F-F, toe hanging by a thread.
When I was 8 or 9 I floated the river with my family and got separated from the group. They went right and I went left. I flipped out of my tube and was stuck in the undercurrent of the rapid for what felt like an eternity until a nice man put down his oar and pulled me out.
When I was 10 I let a friend talk me into “pumping” on her bike, which means you stand on the front or back pegs that stick out of the wheels while they drive they bike. Of course she wrecked while I was on the back and the wheels (very hot I might add), burned into the sides of my calf muscles. I still have scars.
In sixth grade I rode my bike down on hill behind our house in England and passed out on the bike due to fear, heat, and the rocky path and I slammed into the wooden fence of the neighborhood pub, flipped over the bike and landed in a thorn bush. Climbing out of the bush once I came to caused even more scratches.
In 8th grade I packed only my cutest outfits to youth retreats and was usually freezing my ass off every night, miserable, and getting sick.
My sophomore year I attempted to dive off my friend’s decorative waterfall in the backyard pool and the rocks broke, sending me sliding rump first down the rocks and causing a bruise the size of the infamous one in “A League of their Own”.
I’ve been on bad dates, gotten food poisoning, been in horrendous car wrecks, fallen down stairs, bumped into walls, sprained ankles, and had close encounters with the death far more than I want to admit. But, the fact is- I’ve learned something from every mistake. People don’t learn from being told; they learn from experience.
- I wear shoes when I’m outside and I NEVER run barefoot unless I’m on a beach.
- I always hold someone’s foot or hand when approaching rapids and wear a lifevest whenever I’m in dangerous territory.
- I never stood on the front of anyone’s bike again and in fact, I learned in adolesence that me and bikes don’t mix- period.
- I always check the weather when I’m traveling anywhere and I pack for all possible scenarios. I’ve learned to agree with my dad that, “Warm is beautiful”.
- I don’t dive, EVER. ‘Nuff said. I suck at diving.
I’ve got stories to tell and I’ve learned to try new things, be adventurous, how to protect myself, and not be afraid. If you fall, you’ll get back up. If you get sick, you’ll heal. If you fail, try it differently next time.
I don’t want to be one of those parents who follows their kids around so scared that something bad will happen. I don’t want to send my kids the message that without me they can’t survive or figure things out. How will they learn to wear a coat if they’ve never been cold? Why would they eat a decent meal if I’ve always got snacks? Why pack their homework when they know I’ll bring it to them? How will they know what it feels like to get up if I never let them fall?
How can we expect them to take initiative if we’ve always told them where to go, what to do, what to watch out for, and what to be afraid of? How many times do you say, “be careful” to your child a day? I don’t want my kids to “be careful”! I want them to grab life by the horns and go for it! (within reason, lol)
The point is- we have to let our kids get hurt from time to time. Let them struggle. Let them fall. A stubbed toe, exposure to germs, or a broken limb are part of childhood.
A parent who always remembers, has a child who always forgets.