“Ma’am! Your son — he’s making his way to the deep end!” a grandma on vacation alerted me while swimming in the pool on our most recent family vacation. To paint the picture for you, Kellan happened to be doubled down in flotation devices that day, a puddle jumper and one of those super pool noodles that are filled with styrofoam balls … you know, the ones that have like a 300lb weight limit? I knew where exactly he was. I was in the shallow end with Matty and Kade. Kellan was right behind us kicking his way into uncharted waters. After this sweet grandma let me know in a panic that he was making his way away from us I turned and saw that Kellan was exactly where I knew he was and responded with an “Oh, it’s okay; he’s fine right there.”
You see, the thing about Kellan is that he was petrified of the water until this exact day. We literally had just gotten to the point that we could wash his hair without him freaking out. He just has always had a fear of being too deep in water or it going over his head. The fact that he was even in the water not being held was a HUGE step, but today he was actually kicking his little self around that pool like a big boy. You better believe I was going to let him figure it out on his own. How could I keep that from him?
A quick little disclaimer: I keep a close eye on my kids. When most think I’m not paying attention, I am. I have my ears and eyes open at all times with them, but I just don’t let them know it intentionally. I also don’t let them figure out irrational scenarios on their own, as in I’m not letting them run around a pool without floaties on or allowing them to stick their fingers in electrical sockets for the sake of learning life lessons.
I do however, let them jump from bed to bed in their room. I let Matty climb up the stairs of their clubhouse on his own, as well as figure a way to get himself down. I let them slide backwards down slides, hammer nails with their daddy, jump off barstools. I let them carry drinks with no tops and bring full dinner plates to the table. I let them fall and I let them trip. I let them … do life. I let them figure it out on their own.
Because life. They have a whole bunch of it ahead of them and how unfair would it be for me to catch them when they fall? How much of a disservice would I be doing them to not allow them to fall short of one of those bed jumps or spill that cup of juice? What exactly would they learn if they didn’t get the chance to know that scary (or fun) feeling of sliding backwards down that slide in our backyard or how fun kicking around in a swimming pool OFF mom’s hip could actually be? Nothing. They honestly would know nothing about the risks or adventures awaiting them in their day to day lives.
Don’t get me wrong. This risky life I let them lead doesn’t come without repercussions. There are a few more battle scars than I’d like to see and there is a confidence in play that I myself cringe at time to time. I’ll go ahead and add here that there is ALWAYS room to step in. Remember those electrical sockets I mentioned? As a mom that doesn’t limit their play very often I can say that you can stay cautious or protective without restriction or inducing fear.
Right now, I have myself three tiny boys that are pretty fearless. They take risks. They adventure. They help each other out if they need a boost up that slide or a helping hand to jump in that pool without mom to catch them. When we are out of juice, they make orange juice. They improvise, they imagine, they move forward. And it’s magical. As the mom that sat back and allowed them to develop into little tiny MacGyvers, I am beyond content. I feel confident in their ability to understand cause and effect in their actions … and do not doubt that if ever left alone in the woods, they’d survive for at least five days. #seriouslythough