Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not too safe

This parenting thing is not for the faint of heart.  I have no idea who this Elizabeth Stone is to whom the following quote is attributed, but I remember the first time I heard it, thinking, That is it:  "Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body."

Not far from our home, in the development where we rented for a year while we were getting to know the area, there is a playground structure the kids have dubbed "The Spiderweb."  The geometrically correct would call it a buckyball within an icosahedron, but no matter; they scale it pretty much as a spider scales its web, rambling over its ropes 12 feet up in the air.

Last weekend Baby Girl got introduced to it by dad (who is generally better at this sort of thing than I am), and insisted on visiting again today.  Armed with all the affirmation from the NY Times' article scorning too-safe-playgrounds, I biked them over and proceeded to have my heart skip a few beats every time Baby Girl (remember, she is only 2!) decided to stand with her small hands on the top of the metal frame and bounce on the ropes.  Or when she was climbing and hung by her arms for a few seconds before regaining her footing.  Little Brother, more cautious and afraid of heights, asked me, "Mom, what does 'outclimb' mean?" (remembering a line from the Berenstain Bears' No Girls Allowed.)

I hail from a respectable line of overcautious Chinese women, in whose philosophy a child's injury equals a mother's oversight.  But the article claims, and I tend to believe, that there is such a thing as too safe, in playgrounds, and in the larger arena of real life.  And aren't your best (or at least strongest) playground memories centered around the now banned merry-go-rounds, rope swings, and wooden teeter-totters where you first learned the principles of centrifugal force, gravity, and who-not-to-trust-on-the-other-end-of-the-seesaw?

And so we climbed, with mom valiantly staying far enough away to resist grabbing for the backs of their shirts, and enjoyed their flush of pride when they got to the "tippy-tippy-top."

The view is so much better from up here.  
Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for linking to that article. I enjoyed this post, and the article. Have you read "Last Child in the Woods" or "Free Range Parenting?" I tend to be an overly cautious parent, and those books have helped me to be more mindful about loosening the reigns a little. (And they were fun to read - they were both great book club books.)

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. It gave me a lot to think about.

    PS: MY GOSH, THE LEGO CAKE! And the cupcakes! I'm in awe. (Also slightly intimidated and frightened.)