I tend to be fairly cautious. I watch my kids pretty closely.
Although I want to expose them to all kinds of experiences, I find it hard to just "let them be" while they experience it.
I feel the need to provide some sort of running commentary: "be careful," "find something to hold onto," "could be poison ivy in there," "look for snakes," "that's high enough."
This is common sense, right? It is my job to make sure my children are safe, right?
But the entire time I am doing this, there is an inner dialogue running though my head:
"You used to ride your bike 4 blocks from home and spend hours at Miller Park, climbing trees, talking to strangers, wading through storm drains and capturing crawdads - with no parent in sight."
"You would swim way past the breakers and play until you were exhausted and you never got swept out to sea."
"How are they going to learn on their own if you do not let them make some mistakes and see what happens."
"Who cares if they get muddy! Get grip, Jacque. Mud washes off."
"You got poison ivy as a kid - a lot! - and survived."
It is the age old battle between knowing how I should react versus the reality of what I actually do.
I have always been partially jealous and yet slightly appalled at parents - first time or not - who can just let their babies and toddlers crawl and wander all over, watching them from a distance while doing their own thing.
I cannot tell you how many times I have caught someone else's child as they fell off play equipment or grabbed them just as something was about to hit them in the head.
A couple of year's ago I actually grabbed a struggling toddler from under the water after she had wandered away from her mother who was on the other side of the pool, chatting away. When I returned her to her mother, her mother just gave me a little smile and said, "Oh thanks, I wasn't sure where she was." I wanted to say, "Really, you did not know where your 3 year old was?! Isn't knowing where your 3 year old is the one thing you should always know?!"
Anyway, the point of this rambling is that I understand that balance is the key to most things in life and I am striving for greater balance when it comes to backing off and letting my kids just be.
And I think I am doing better, because the entire time I was video taping my kids yesterday, in my head I was screaming, "ticks! snakes! mud! disease! nasty! gross! do not fall! do not get hurt! I do not want to go to the ER today!"
But, hey, at least I let him walk across that stream on that old, rotten log while grabbing poison ivy invested vegetation to haul himself up!
Aren't you proud of me?