Growing up, I was told to never walk barefoot, to never go to unfamiliar places without a family member, to never play with the mud or sand because my clothes will get dirty. And I have done just as I was told. While these rules seem perfectly logical and reasonable, now I wish I had rebelled against them, at least once in my childhood. I remember when I was about seven years old, my brother bought me a super cool bicycle, a green one. And he taught me how to ride it. However, I was told to only play with it in the backyard, so years after this, when I was about 15 years old, I met a new friend and while talking we discovered that we were once neighbors, so she said “Oh you are the little girl with the green bicycle who never left their backyard?” we laughed and laughed about it, but I secretly felt a little sad that it was so true, I actually never left our backyard with that cool bicycle! and I wished I had done the opposite, even once in all those years! My mom was a teacher and whoever was raised by a teacher, will understand what I am talking about. Discipline was vitally important in our household! And I thank god for that, because thanks to the way my mom raised me, I am who I am today, I know my limits and what is wrong and right! Yet I wish I could have got my hands and clothes dirty while playing in the mud, or felt the ground with my bare feet, while running and screaming like the rest of my friends did, I wish I took that green bicycle around the neighborhood, I wish I wasn’t careful at times, I wish I fell more and scratched my knees, I wish I broke a leg while climbing a tree. I know my wishes might sound absurd to some of you, but that is the truth! I do wish I didn’t hear too many “be careful”s!
Today and because of all the “be careful”s I heard, I am always careful, way too careful. I do not like to go to the beach because I don’t like the sand, I am scared of all kind of animals, I never climb anything, I never walk barefoot! And that is exactly why I do things differently with Adam. Because I lived the other side of the story and I did not like it! I want my child to decide for himself how he wants to be entertained. The other day, we went for a walk with a friend, her sons and her dog: Harvey! He looked like a very sweet dog! It was Adam’s first time to encounter a dog, he liked him first but when Harvey came closer, he panicked, well actually, we both did, so I had to fight my fear, and touch the dog because how else will my son learn that it is okay to play with dogs! I had to fight the urge to run, I had to keep calm and explore, myself, how it feels like to caress and play with a dog! Few minutes later Adam was indulging himself in some Harvey and Adam time! And I was in cloud nine! I did it!! And therefore he did it too!!
Few months ago, at a birthday party, Adam was still crawling commando style, and of course he was being the little active and energetic little boy he is. He was all over the place, crawling left, right and center. I overheard two lovely women, wondering why I left my child crawling the way he did, on a floor where germs were having a little party of their own, and one of them decided that i did it because I was too tired and had no one to help me with Adam. It was very funny because it was not the first time I hear these kind of comments, and surprisingly, they make me happy! I realize how different I am doing my job as a mama, and it makes me happy! I was right behind my son, making sure that he was safe, yet I didn’t stop him from getting dirty or exploring the surroundings. Actually, I always insist on taking him to the play in the grass, with the mud and sand, explore, and get those little fingers and toes dirty (nothing that a 5 minutes bath cannot fix), I teach him how to climb and how to get down, I let him walk barefoot in the supermarket, pushing the trolley around, while strangers shoot me with their angry looks, and that is totally fine!
Although being too careful allowed me to be more creative and innovative, it unleashed my imagination and spread my wings, yet I still wish I wasn’t careful all the time. And it is such a great blessing to be able to learn so much while teaching my son not to be careful! Parenting is letting go of your child a little more every day, it is growing together while growing apart. Parenting is tricky, but I know from my own experience that it is okay to let kids be kids, it is Okay not to control every moment and hold back because of our fears! So every day I try to teach my little one to fly on his own, little by little, until one day he can do it all by himself! Until we both can do it on our own!