on letting them be kids
Luke is very into all things dirty and gross and boyish these days. I love it. He collects odd things in his pockets- beetle carcases, discarded nuts and pebbles, a marble or two. Some leaves from each tree. A crumbly cookie, maybe. Laundry has be come very interesting. It makes me smile everytime.
He digs up earthworms and winds them between his toes. He squashes the bugs to inspect their guts. He is inquisitive and dirty and he digs holes and explores. This week he found a dead bird and the older neighborhood children told me in shocked tones that he "touched it and then put his fingers in his mouth!" And that was really gross, and maybe I wanted to throw up a little, but what was I going to do? Too late to stop it. We washed his hands, I prayed he wouldn't get a disease, and I sent him back outside.
because here is the thing:
his boyhood is shaping up to be exactly what I want it to be. It is beautiful and dirty and deliciously Luke. I'm in favor of hands off, eyes on parenting. At the park, I watch to make sure he doesn't push or get stolen or run off, but I let him do his thing. We do the same thing at home. I help him dig up worms sometimes, and we play playdoh and trains together and we laugh and snuggle and tickle, but mostly I let him use his own imagination to entertain himself and foster his own independence. And we like it that way.
Last week we were at the park, and Luke was climbing a pine tree off in the distance. I could see him from where I sat with Elsie on a bench, talking with my friends. The branches were thick and low to the ground, so he could scramble up there himself. He climbed a few feet in the air, and hung out there awhile. I wasn't sure if he could get down himself, because he hadn't been able to do that yet. I walked over and stood about six feet off, and asked Luke if he needed a hand. He said he was fine, and I watched as he climbed down himself and, oh, you should have seen his face! Pride just beamed from his smug little smile. He did it.
I celebrated with him, and then turned to walk away to let him have at it again, when another mom stepped in my path.
"Are you sure you want him to be doing that?" she said
"Um yes." My eyebrows were definitely puzzled at this lady.
"Aren't you afraid he'll fall?"
"Nope." And I walked away.
But here is what I wanted to say.
No. No, I'm not afraid he'll fall three feet from a tree. Because if the worst thing that happens to him is that he falls from a tree, gosh, lucky kid. I lived half my life climbing trees, and it was the best. If he falls, he will probably scrape a knee, or an elbow. He isn't up high enough to break anything. He's safe. So, he scrapes a knee, I give him a kiss and a bandaid and he climbs back up.
What a I am more afraid of is squishing his inquisitiveness, his sense of adventure. Of passing on some crazed maternal fear to him so that he thinks he can't do anything because he might get dirty or get hurt. I refuse to helicopter mom him because I'm afraid of making him feel like he can't live. Can you imagine if I'd pulled him out of the tree, or forced him to let me help him down? He would have been robbed of the chance to try and succeed and feel proud of himself.
Childhood is glorious and wonderful and short.
I want him to climb all the trees and mountains he can see. Overturn every rock, collect every bug, and drink up his boyhood.