An article was sent to me a bit while back by our darling cousin (also an early childhood expert, ahem) with the cute text ‘see, I told you all B’s scrapes and cuts are a sign of intelligence! Read below.’
It could not have come at a more perfect time where as just the night before, while I was cooking away something tasty and B was coloring in the bay window, M asked me ‘where is L?’
‘I don’t know.’
Like – literally, don’t know. I knew he was outside and yes, could run out and call his name and he’d eventually emerge from our yard or a neighbors or deep in the woods but precisely where he was, I was clueless.
It was also pitch black and kind of cold. I then thought had a thought: am I an insane parent?
I poked my head outside into the cold and there he was. With his normal gang and they were taking turns climbing up the slide and trying to wrestle each other off the top of it. Bam, kid down. Laughing. Climbing. Pushing. Fighting. Laughing again.
I sighed a big sigh and refrained from comment and went back inside. I’m content with no blood or broken bones.
It’s always been this way. And 90% of the time I don’t even question it. Visions of L and, partner in crime, Ryder running wild through our yard carrying large sticks, still in diapers, with Meadow toddling behind will always be in my memory. And now little B has joined the gang and they do scary things the include but are not limited too the following: climbing broken fences to try and hang from trees, making actual spears to throw, wrestling – always wrestling, ending up in someones home two blocks away, sledding in an actual ravine, riding motorized vehicles, being told they can walk around the block only to wander over a mile away (you know, towards the pretty 3rd graders that happen to live across the woods), climbing – always climbing, pushing limits, making mistakes.
It’s funny how ‘normal’ this all is to me and I’m often reminded that it isn’t entirely ‘normal’ when another mom visits. ‘You just let them run out the door?’ ‘He rides his scooter into the street?’ ‘You let them wrestle?’
Well…..yes. I mean, maybe it’s just these weird kids but is there really another option?
Obviously, the most basic of things are being enforced here. They went to Safety Town. Shocking, I know. Helmets, look both ways, don’t talk to strangers. I promise you these have been taught. Yet beyond that, well, there is sort of a trust factor that is built up. Don’t be dumb, and you will be given the freedom to roam. And watch your brother. Always watch your brother.
I recall a time recently I got a text warning me the boys were ‘building a large barricade in the woods.’ Wait, I’m confused. Is this…..bad?
I looked out the window and sure enough they were hauling lumber and leaves and rocks and twisting it all into some intricate formation. Cool. Carry on.
Another time L and a friend disappeared deep into the woods only to come back scared, scared, because they broke part of a fence while riding the four wheeler. And an adult saw and spoke to them about it. They looked like they had seen a legitimate ghost. Rightfully so, we don’t break people’s property! We spoke about it, reassured them all would be OK, and ended up fixing the fence.
I could go on and on with stories like this. Stories of things that feel just a little bit un safe. That teeter on the edge of is this ok or not ok. Yet that teetering is where I feel my boys grow best. Do they always lean the right way? No, no. But that’s all part of it.
‘Humans are designed to experience a degree of fear – manage it out of their lives and they will seek it elsewhere, on the internet or with self-destructive behaviour‘ and that ‘Unsupervised time, even just in the yard, might lead to more cuts and scrapes or fights between siblings, but it is what many of us did as children and it teaches them how to make risk-related decisions for themselves.’
Have they come home bleeding, scared, hurt and/or all of the above? Absolutely. But I can’t tell you how many countless times they have hurt themselves right under my supervision. Kids are going to get hurt. And I think they learn even more about it when mom isn’t present to navigate the whole situation for them. They actually almost seem like different children when I’m not in plain sight and I intend to give them as much breathing room as they have shown they can responsibly manage.
So here’s to raising ‘wild’ kids. Within reason, of course.