One of the unexpected take-aways from our Be Out There Challenge is how I struggle as a parent with letting go. I'm all for my kid climbing up a tree, but when I see he's about 15- 20 feet up, I call for him to return to the ground now! as fight off unwelcome visions of him with a broken arm--or worse.
My boys are free to roam the park...unless I see someone or something suspicious.
I want my boys to have grand adventures! But I also want to keep them safe. Where does one draw the line? I suppose this is every mother's dilemma.
Almost immediately after arriving at the playground yesterday, my boys met up with their friends and I spent much of the time walking with another mom (another moms of two boys. I guess like does attract like at times). We were joined by yet another mom of two boys and walked the half-mile path around the park.
At one point we stopped near the playground and saw an all-out pine cone fight taking place. Kids have to improvise after the snow has melted, right? The children lobbed (sometimes whipped) pine cones across an imaginary line with no clear goal in site other than to try and hit each other.
We observed the children. It was all in good fun. They were laughing and scrambling around to find cones and avoid getting hit. It's easy to imagine children 100, or even 500, years ago playing such a game.
But it's only fun until someone gets hurt.
We debated whether or not to break up the game. Surely, if these were young children, we'd caution them to stop. But as it was, they were mostly 3rd-5th graders and none of our children were involved, so we moms stayed mum.
I saw my younger son grab a bunch of cones and asked if planned to throw them. He reported that his plan was to hide them and make the others search them out. Um, okay....
I told him I wanted to take a picture of them, which I did and then he promptly and carelessly tossed the whole bunch into the fight because he's rebelling over the fact that I bumped up our challenge week to this week instead of holding it last week as originally scheduled.
While I was rolling my eyes and my boy was reveling in his act of rebellion, another mom called out. My older son got beaned in the forehead with a pine cone. Mind you, he wasn't part of the great pine cone war, he just happened to be walking past the battlefield.
At that point, the moms broke up the fun. Amid protests and cries of disappointment, the group scattered eventually recovering and moving on to Tag and other games.
Did we step in too late? What if there had been a worse injury? What if someone else's child got hurt?
It can be a tough call, but the only way to avoid bumps and bruises (physical and emotional) is to raise a child in isolation and who wants that? Better we learn to fall down and promptly get back up.
During my next walk at the park, I'll be singing these words from Poi Dog Pondering's song, U LI LA LU, "You should wear with pride the scars on your skin, they're a map of the adventures and places you've been." But I'll still be struggling with when to step in and when to let go.