Thursday, September 18, 2008

Letting Go, Somewhat

I'll be the first to admit that I'm pretty overprotective of my son. We have specific barriers and safety precautions set up around the house, so that V can explore and play, and for the most part, we don't have to worry about hearing a crash and an "uh, oh" come from his room upstairs if we're nowhere near him. I've also tried to relax a little when it comes to things like V exploring in the kitchen cabinets and subsequently, making a drum set out of my wooden spoons and pot lids. However, it's easy to keep him safe in our own home, because we've made it that way. It's a lot harder when we're outside or at someone else's home, especially if there is no childproofing whatsoever. For instance, when we're at a friend's house who may not have children of his/her own, or whose kids are much older than V, I have a tendency to follow V around and make certain he isn't getting into something that might potentially break and/or harm him and/or other people. It's very hard for me to just let him go and be a 2-year-old and explore, even when I know he's in a very safe environment. When we're outside, I'm constantly on top of him to make certain he won't make a mad dash to the street (which he'll do), even on our very safe cul-de-sac that sees very little traffic. I haven't really let him play in our backyard much because there isn't anything spectacular about it, and my fear is that he'll run into the wild flowers, get stung, and possibly have inherited my bee allergy. I'm so thankful for the many parks in our city. We've tried out several, and there are two I particularly like. One of them is built specifically for kids his age, and though the playground equipment isn't very tall, I still have nasty visions of him falling while trying to climb down one of the many ladder-type things. Maybe my anxiety rubbed off on him, because it took him a very long time to want to play on slides and actually go down them by himself, even the very tiny slides. The other park that we've been enjoying is much closer to our house, but it has a much taller playground setup. It also has more areas on the sides to climb into and out of the play structure, and the drops are probably about six feet in height or higher. So, you can imagine my horror on Monday when V decided it was time to try to climb up into this thing all by himself. One of the ladder-like parts is almost like a climbing wall with foot and hand holds, though it's plastic, looks more like an erector set, and moves a little when someone is climbing on it. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture to show you, so you'll just have to imagine it until I get comfortable enough with V climbing on it to use my camera, too. The first time I saw him go up, I panicked and wanted him to come back down. And then, I thought of something. I wondered if it would be more beneficial to just let him go and do his thing rather than give into my fears and bring him back down to earth. I mean, there were many other kids, some his own age, who were climbing all over the playground, and nothing was stopping them. Why couldn't I just relax and let him go? And, so, with flutters in my heart and a hand close to his little butt the whole way up, I watched as my toddler climbed up the shaky wall and into the playground's tower...only to keep climbing the stairs up to the tallest curly slide. So, did B and I stop him when he got to the slide? Well, I know I was pretty anxious about him being so high by himself, but the top of the slide is enclosed, it seemed fairly safe, the whole playground structure sits on squishy, rubbery material, and every other kid going down the slide was perfectly fine. I just kept my mouth shut and let him go down on his own, running over to the bottom of the slide fast enough to meet him when he got there. And, since he'd done it once and had an amazing time, he had to do it again...and again...and again. Each time, my anxiety lessened a little, though my heart still pounded every time he stood at the top of the slide all by himself. This morning, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go back to that park. V went down the huge slide a couple of times, but most of his focus was on that climbing wall thing. I spent much of my time standing by, giving him instruction when needed, and keeping my hands close to his butt, especially when he neared the top. I'll tell you, every time he went up, my heart skipped a beat, but every time he went up, I gave myself a mental hug for allowing him to take on a challenge and work through it on his own. It was hard not to step in and say, "No, V, that's too high for you to climb," and I still put my foot down when it came to him trying to climb up and down other parts of the structure. However, I keep discovering lately that I need to stop underestimating my little boy and his abilities. He's only 2 years old, but there's so much he's learned to do in those two years, and there's so much he needs to be able to do on his own if he's going to grow up into a successful, contributing member of society. I know it's my job to keep him safe, but I also know it's now my job to let him spread his wings sometimes and learn and grow and explore. Who would have thought a trip to the playground could teach me so much about my son and myself? I still have a lot to learn about raising V, especially when it comes to my own fears. I'm so glad that he hasn't demonstrated my excruciating fear of heights (yet). There are a lot of things I've refused to do in life because of it. However, I've found that by watching him and his fearlessness, I'm learning myself that it's okay to take risks. You never know what you're going to discover when you just try.


Glass of Whine said...

Unless you have become completely different, I thought you had a nice balance of over protectiveness and allowance of exploration with V. I am already reaching this phase with bubbies - he is CRAZy!

Amanda C. said...

I don't know if it's because of the move and because we're in new territory, but I feel as though I've become even more over protective than I used to be. It could also be the fact that V is much more mobile, too. I mean, he can really run now, and it just takes seconds for him to get away from B or I! It scares the pants off me sometimes. I'm trying not to become a crazy, over anxious mommy, but it's been really hard lately.