letting go (allowing kids to take risks)

taking risks

I have a feeling that the older Evelyn gets, the more “letting go” posts I will be writing.  It seems that from the time they are born, parenting is just a process of letting go, little by little, of our children.

As a first time mom and self-proclaimed worry wort, I am sometimes hyper-vigilant about protecting my child from any possible pain.  Not just imminent pain, but hypothetical pain.  If I could wrap her in an invisible bubble, and shield her from all the heartache this world has to offer, believe me I would.  I worry enough for the whole family and sometimes I worry that my worrying will effect her in a negative way.  Evelyn is already a very sensitive, cautious child.  (I wonder where she gets it?)  She observes, she plans, and she’s not a big risk-taker.  I haven’t done much baby-proofing in my house because I didn’t have to.  She has never really tried to get into the cabinets, climb on the furniture, or pull the dog’s ears.  While it’s been awesome to have such an easy child, I also worry (there I go again) that she is too cautious…and when life does bring her disappointment or pain, she doesn’t handle it very well.  She’s not one to brush it off and keep on going.  But that’s something I want her to learn.  I want her to sometimes take risks and to learn to get back up and keep going if she falls.

This weekend the temps climbed into the 50s and the sun shone bright across cloudless, sapphire skies.  It was perfect for getting out of the house to relieve our cabin fever.  We decided to venture out for a walk in our neighborhood.  There’s an alley that runs by our house.  It climbs uphill past some neighbors and Evelyn loves to walk up and run back down.  Every time she wants to run down that hill, I worry.  What if she falls?  What if she knocks her front teeth out?  Every single time we start to descend that hill, my desire to keep her safe from pain wrestles with my understanding that she needs to be able to run and have fun without me shouting, “Be careful!” after her all the time.

This time, as she started to run, the worrier in me started to fear the worst, but instead, I fought that feeling and ran next to her, enjoying the huge smile on her face as her hair flapped behind her.  She was having so much fun and I didn’t want to ruin that moment of freedom for her by imposing my own worries on her psyche.  She triumphantly made it to the bottom of the hill and I was feeling good about myself that I had allowed her to take that risk.  Then she wanted to do it again.  This time she ascended the hill with her daddy.  I poised myself at the bottom of the hill and pulled out my camera so that I could capture the huge smile on her face as she neared the bottom.  I never got to take that picture because about halfway down the hill, she fell.

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Her daddy scooped her up and she immediately went into a breath-holding spell.  The words started to come out of my mouth, wanting to blame it on someone, “That’s why I hate the idea of her running….” but then I stopped.  What good what it do?  She had taken a risk, she had fallen, and it was nobody’s fault.  All we could do was pick her up and assess the damage, and help her to move on.  The damage came in the form of a large goose egg on her forehead with no damage to the rest of her face or teeth.  Typically, after a breath-holding spell she gets very tired and since she hadn’t napped, we had to fight to keep her awake for a few hours, until I felt comfortable allowing her to go to bed.  For awhile, nothing could soothe her pain, but when I asked her if she wanted to help me make some cookies in the kitchen, she brightened up and was right as rain in a few minutes.  Later, I showed her the bump in the mirror and she looked at it strangely, but didn’t seem to care.  The next morning, I asked her what happened to her head, wondering if she would remember the incident.  She struggled to even remember that there was anything wrong with her head.

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This letting go thing is going to be an ongoing struggle for me.  As she grows, and starts taking bigger risks, I will have to grow too. Sometimes letting go means having to watch your child get hurt.  This made me think of all the times my mom had to sit back and watch while I took risks and made mistakes, from my trips to Europe to my relationship decisions.  She probably wanted to tell me all the reasons my choices could end badly, but she didn’t.  She let me learn and let me grow and I built the strength I needed to fly because she didn’t put me in a bubble.  Sometimes things worked out great, and sometimes I fell and got hurt…and then she helped me assess the damage and helped me to move on.  And just as my mom did this for me, I will do my best to carry it forward for Evelyn…because all the best moments require us to let go, cast off our worries, and take a little risk.

What risk had the biggest payoff for you?

How do you handle watching your children take risks?

This post is linked up to Our Sunday Best on Momnivore’s Dilemma!

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3 thoughts on “letting go (allowing kids to take risks)

  1. well written…….letting go is one of the hardest things a parent has to do…..thank God He’s around to help us through it….and if you ever stumble….I’m still here for you…..
    love you….

  2. I watched my baby boy (5yo) ski this weekend. All was well on the training hill with conveyor, but then my SIL (a professional instructor) wanted to take him up the lift. I swear the hill attached to the lift grew teeth and mean eyebrows. I had to go into the lodge.

    • Ahh…I would be a wreck! Sometimes when my husband plays with my daughter, I have to walk away too, because it’s too hard for me to keep my mouth shut if I think she might get hurt.

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