The ‘Helicopter Parent’ inside me was screaming out to wrap my kids in cotton wool. And, to a certain extent, I think I was within my rights to feel that way – both my boys (2 & 3-1/2) have already spent time in the emergency ward at our local hospital.
But I knew I had to let them fall every now and then and pick themselves up, even though my mothering instinct is to run at full speed and catch them before they hit the ground.
One day, I won’t be there to catch them, and I need for them to know how to dust themselves off and keep going.
Last weekend, it hit home… hard.
I took the boys to our local bike park. The oval is nice and flat and well within my comfort zone.
They cycled for a couple of laps, and then, inevitably, they glanced longingly at the surrounding hills. The ‘Mother Hen’ in me wanted to keep them within the safety of the oval, with ‘next to zero’ chance of getting hurt, but I knew they were ready for more.
So, we took the bikes over to a small ramp where they could practice their downhill racing. First, tentatively, with brakes on all the way down, then racing faster and faster each time.
As my boys sped past, a dad arrived with his son, around 12 years old. He stood for a moment at the top of the hill, looked with disdain at the ‘little’ ramp we had just conquered and then unceremoniously shot forward toward the stairs. I literally grabbed my chest as he mounted the stairs and flew down them to the bottom. Breathing deeply, I looked to his dad, who smiled at him and muttered: ‘Show-off.’
I wanted to cry, but instead, I smiled at him and said: ‘I guess I have that to look forward to.’ He chuckled back knowingly.
Sometimes, being a parent means denying your deepest instincts to protect and shelter your little ones, knowing that to fly, they must first fall out of the nest. I know that one day, they’ll conquer mountains, but for now, I’m happy watching them take on the ramp with their training wheels.
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