This weekend was one of the best the children and I have had in a long time. No whining, arguments or time outs. The kids were awesome and had such a good time learning and exploring their abilities. My husband and I are the kind of parents who encourage our kids to take ‘calculated’ risks.
My son is growing up fast and he has been asking to walk around the neighborhood alone a few times. On Friday, I said it was ok but that I am trusting him with his life and that this is a BIG first step for him to feel responsible and act like a Big Boy... I wanted him to learn to trust himself as well and not ever fear going away on his own but that he should always take calculated risks. That he should always look at whatever is around him... assess the situation or the risk and then decide if it is a safe and sane thing to do.
My son agreed with me and went off on his adventure only to run straight back after 5 minutes because he encountered some barking soi dogs (Soi dogs are street dogs). He assessed the situation and decided that maybe it would be better for me to join him the first time. I wanted to encourage him further and not buy into fear and therefore I suggested that he take his sister this time and I will walk behind them. I wanted him to steer his focus away from the dogs and direct it towards protecting his sister. He did it and was very protective of his sister placing her to the inside of the street closer to the small pavement.
The next day, Saturday, we went to the pool to have a swim. For the past few months my daughter has been a little afraid of the water and I have been patiently trying to get her to put her head in the water, jump in or kick her legs when I hold her far away from my body. That day, she said she did not want to do any of those activities and all I said was, "I will wait for you to tell me when you are ready! And if you were, you will be very proud of yourself when you do it!" I waited only ten minutes when she said she wanted to kick, which only meant that I had to hold her away from my body. Woohoo, first step accomplished. I then asked her if she wanted to put her head in the water and she did. After the fifth time she asked if we could stop and trusted that I would listen to her. I wanted to teach her that she could trust me in the water and by this we can move forward.
That same afternoon, my son came again to ask me if it was ok to take his little sister for a walk alone. He held her hand and they walked to a friend’s house who is like an older uncle to him. The house was two corners away from ours and when my husband and I walked there to see if they were ok, we saw them riding Jim's motorbike to come back to ours. I looked at my son, smiled and said that I am very proud of him for doing it alone and taking care of his sister. I wish I could freeze that moment in time as his smile was like sunshine and his pride shown all over his face.
That day at night, the kids were invited to a barbecue…well the whole family but I had had the kids the whole day and just wanted to relax and have some me-time. After two hours, I called my husband to remind him that it was 8pm and that I would like the kids to come back for bed time. He told me that my son immediately got up and put his shoes on. My daughter, knowing what was about to happen, held on to her big brother’s hand before they even left the house and they both walked over to me at night. The house was one corner away and even though it was dark it was safe. My husband then followed them to check if they got home all right. This built such confidence in the both of them it was amazing to watch.
The next day, we then went to the playground where my son saw another child climb the colorful plastic play thing form the outside and then jump to a tree branch, swing from it and then jump back to the ground. I instantaneously knew what he was going to do. He was going to try it and so I had my camera ready... took a video of his first attempt and then pictures of his next few times. I asked him later if he had looked around and assessed the situation, he said he saw that the other boy did it without injury and so he knew he could do it. Ha!
It takes so much for a mother to stop herself from worrying about everything. Her protective instinct sometimes gets in the way of allowing her children to experience things on their own. I found myself biting the insides of my cheek a few times especially when my son wanted to take his sister for a walk all by himself. But if I interfered and stopped him from doing it, I would not have been able to see the look of pride on his face, his growing self-confidence or his sister’s trust in him.
Have you ever encountered a time when you were torn between allowing your child to experience something and learning from it and your sense of protectiveness?