Sunday, August 21, 2011

Let them adventure, let them discover and then, if need be, take them to the doctor.

I love visiting with my friend Desiree. I dont' know if she will remember this but I first met her at a photo shoot that my other friend, Margaret, arranged for a bunch of girls. Desiree introduced herself to me in a way that would make me love her pretty much instantly. She said with her thick Mississippi accent, "Hi my name is Desiree, spelt like desire but with and extra E, last name Cantu like, "You can too" but with a T U".

Over the last year or so our friendship has really grown. The other day while we were visiting with each other we were talking about how as children we were often dirty, barefoot, climbing trees and well, just all out adventuring. We both had swampy areas by our houses and were cringing about how we used to adventure into them barefoot, touching squirmy reptilian things. Ignorance is bliss, we agreed. If we had thought about the leeches, malaria(?), salmonella, etc., we probably would have been terrified. My grandparents used to live in Monroe Louisiana and next to their house was a pond that they took my brother and I to swim in. Years later when my brother and I were older we were both horrified to learn that that pond had snapping turtles in it. My toes curled up inside of my feet just thinking about it. Again, ignorance is bliss.

But back to Desiree and I. We laughed about a woman who was concerned that Desiree was letting her daughter climb so high on one of the jungle gyms and asked Des, "What if she falls?" To which Des replied, "She will probably get hurt and then I will take her to the doctor." I laughed because it's exactly what I would have said. I let Henry climb play and learn to discover what his body is capable of. What I'm having problems with is him picking things off of the ground. I need to get over it. Obviously, I can be reasonable. Cigarette butts, needles, etc. are off limits but feathers, mud, rocks, bugs and all that fun stuff should be discovered. I have to remember that just because I don't like having dirty hands now doesn't mean that he shouldn't be able to play in the dirt. I loved to play in the dirt as a kid! I remember it well. If he catches something icky like lice, or a cold or whatever it may be than we will make a trip to the doctors. I would rather have a child with an adventures spirit than a child that is terrified of germs and of getting hurt.

it was hard for me to let him play in this stinky mud but he loved it.
If I can't catch him then he falls. I let him get scrapes and bruises and bumps on the head and then I kiss him and if need be take him to the doctor. He will learn to be careful but confident. He will learn his limits and hopefully with a little encouragement stretch those limits and do amazing things. Desiree and I care about our children's safety. Absolutely. And anyone questioning that will swiftly meet a knuckle sandwich, but we also care about our children's sense of self. We want them to challenge themselves and discover new things on their own so they can feel the sense of pride and confidence that comes with it.

Here is a picture of me at 2 years old. I'm the little one on the left with a cast on my leg. I just asked my Mom how it happened so that I could get the story right as I tend to mix up memories or make them up entirely. I remember wanting to do a cartwheel on the deck railing like a gymnast would on a balance beam, and falling off. My Mom came out to find me crying and took me to the doctors. My leg wasn't actually broken although that's the easiest way to explain the cast. Apparently when I fell the skin that surrounds the bone separated and filled with fluid and blood and a cast was needed to help it heal.

While my Mom never encouraged me to get on the railing and I'm sure she was hurting and worried for me and I know I was hurting, I'm glad that she still allowed me to be adventurous. I still went on to do gymnastics, climb trees, jungles gyms and more,(climb on top of refrigerators to eat cakes reserved for bakes sales), and when I got hurt, never once did I question whether my Mom cared about me. I still trusted her and felt safe with her even after my fall. I need to remember that Henry will get hurt but he wont blame me. He will seek me out to comfort him and if I do it correctly he will get up and carry on.

after sliding face first down a cement side walk.

The proof is in his smile.


  1. OMG! I love you wrote about this! It's amazing to see how far moms have come from us growing up to the 'hecklers' at the park/playschool/grocery stores, etc... shame on them. it makes me want to sneeze without covering my nose ;)

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