I tend to let my children go out and adventure without hovering, and moreso with each child. A few weeks ago when her sister was chasing her over the sidewalk, Annabelle had a terrible spill and scraped up her lovely face: nose, lips, and chin all lost the top layer of skin and generated tiny beads of blood for a few days.
But it wasn’t because I wasn’t standing close by on the monkey bars, or standing preventatively below the opening in the jungle gym. It wasn’t because I let her climb fences, balance on curbs, or walk on walls. It was just simple running on the safe, flat ground.
So in a way, this accident reassured me that I wasn’t a neglectful mom. Because I can’t prevent injury and literal defacement. I can make sure she doesn’t fall off the swing by forbidding her from riding on swings, but I can’t prevent her from falling at all, so what’s the point?
It is my firm belief that it is more important for kids to have freedom than to be kept safe. It is from freedom that they will cultivate an ability to keep themselves safe, whereas the other method would leave them unprepared for the world, and worse, might convince them that they are delicate.
And isn’t that sort of the same lesson that led our family on the road in the first place? Weighing safety and reliability against freedom, freedom won. And what happens when you rely too heavily on the predictability of a weekly or monthly salary and then the sidewalk comes up and smacks you anyway, in the form of layoffs, or unexpected medical bills and you still have all those credit card bills and a home equity line? Mightn’t it be safer to plan on unpredictability? Mightn’t it be better to run on the sidewalk and get a hug with every inevitable tumble?