Friday, 7 September 2012

The Unbearable Braveness of Toddlers

I am forever grateful that Harry is cautious little soul - he didn't walk until he *knew* he could, he never climbed the stairs when little (or, on that note, the sofas, tables or bookcases). I could always leave him to nip upstairs or to the loo without too much worry of the mischief he would get up to.

There were times when I worried a little about this (I mean, it's the mother's prerogative to worry about even the good things, right?)- what if he grew up to be over-cautious, what if he never wanted to do anything exciting - what if he was a wimp?! But most of the time I recognised his caution for the blessing it was, and thanked my lucky stars.

Now he is a little older and getting a little braver - this has its pay offs - he is no longer permanently attached to my side when out and about, and his new found experimentation has seen him even trying new foods he would never have touched before. But, oh my god, I have never felt so terrified in all my life! I never wanted to be a 'helicopter parent', and always felt quite smug that I'd avoided that particular parenting sin - making sure I never rushed over when he fell over and bumped, so proud of my big boy bouncing straight back up. However, I fear that I have recently recognised that as much as I tried to disguise it, helicopter is probably my default.

I first started to realise my failings when out and about with Harry's little buddy from the childminder, P. Now, P is a few months older than Harry and a bit bigger so he ran over to the big slide and up the ladder. The ladder that is way too big for Harry (which I am kind of glad of because it leads to a platform 6ft up in the air with two sheer drops). Of course, Harry comes over whinging for help - unfotunately for him me and P's mum both have a feeding baby attached. This happens 3 or 4 times 'Mummy, HELP me!' and then all goes quiet. I assume he has gone to play on something else. Until my heart skips a veat (well, probably several) as I look up and see him on the ruddy platform! Waving! With a great big smile on his face! The first thing he does after whizzing down the slide is rush over saying 'Yay, did it Mummy!' and of course I feel so proud of his determination, but also a little wrench in my heart every time I see him up there willing him to be careful. Meanwhile P's mum calmly chats, seemingly unperturbed by the peril they are putting themselves in.

Since then, I've tried really hard to relax a bit and let him get on with the dangerous life of being a toddler, but I nearly reached my limit the other day at the park. We go to this park because there is a great climbing frame with fast slides that is perfectly suited to little ones his age. Apart from this one terrifying bridge thing that last time he went on I literally only managed to avoid a head-meets-floor incident by grabbing his ankles (in my defence I was heavily pregnant!) One of his little friends happens to be there - great I thought - time to sit back and enjoy a mummy chat. Oh no, no, no. How wrong was I - the next minute we look up and... no they are not on the scary bridge thing. They are at the other end of the bloody park on the big kids climbing frame! Climbing up a ladder that goes vertically and then horizontally up to a platform at least 8 ft high! Each of gaps between the rungs would easily fit one of our little cherubs and send them hurtling to their doom. Hearts in our mouths we race over, between us managing one mum at the top and one at the bottom, ready to catch. You know what? Neither of them so much as slipped! They climbed up there at least 10 times each without so much as a shake. I tried it just once and was nearly rendered incapable of movement halfway up.

I was really proud, no doubt about it - my heli-blades were whirring at the speed of light, but I was proud. Needless to say we soon ushered them back to the other play area - and for some reason, that terrifying bridge didn't seem so bad any more. I let him get on with it whilst standing at least an arm's reach away!

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