I’m all for adventure. I want to see my son running about in the woods, climbing trees, wading in streams and squelching in mud. I’ve just finished reading ’21st Century Boys’ by Sue Palmer, which talks a lot about the problems with more sedentary, supervised, structured, house-bound and risk averse modern childhood as opposed to the experience of generations of children who had freedom to roam with groups of children of mixed ages, supervised by their own common sense and the rules of the street.
When the time comes I hope that I will be able to let my son out to play in our local area, however, I expect I will watch from the window ‘just in case’ and worry until the moment he steps back over our threshold. Giving my son some freedom will not only be difficult because it isn’t ‘normal’ anymore but also because I know I will struggle emotionally and today has caused me to realise this more than ever.
Today Blue and I visited a local children’s farm. A harmless enough activity surely? In the last few weeks my son has become much more confident, physical and ‘brave’ and today, before I could run to catch him, I watched him flip himself over a low wall, somersault and land flat on his back. He cried out of shock more than anything else. Fortunately, after a big cuddle, check over and a kiss to stop his tears he was off again, as if nothing had ever happened but my heart was racing, I broke into a sweat, I was shaking and going over in my head what could have been.
For the rest of the day I’ve been checking him expecting bruises or worse to appear and generally fussing. If I am such an emotional wreck after what seems to have been a minor fall, how am I ever going to loosen the apron strings and give my toddler a taste of the independence he is starting to want? As he gets older will I ever be able to give him freedom to go out and make his own way, his own mistakes? I know there will come a time when I won’t have a choice and I won’t enjoy it at all. Today made me even more aware that I need to teach him to be street-wise, road-safe and give him as much experience of the world as I can so I can trust him to keep himself safe because *gulp* I won’t always be there to catch him.