Figuring out how to equip my kid to be ready for the world and how to handle tough situations is something I think about a lot (in fact I’ve previously blogged about it here). But, in reality, the step of actually letting them off into the world is a whole lot harder! My previous blog post was also about trying to be less over-protective so this is clearly a challenge for the stage of motherhood I’m in!
Yesterday my toddler fell off a climbing frame from quite a height, he was at my hand height with my arms stretched out so probably about 7ft. It was one of those awful heart in stomach moments as I watched him fall.
The bridge was basically a plank of wood with ropes to hold on to for balance. Thinking about it now, what a dangerous bridge to have 7ft up?! I’d been watching the little guy toddle around the climbing frame, come up to the bridge already, look like he made a decision that he couldn’t do it and potter off to a wider bridge which required less balance.
I was stood only a couple of metres away watching when he wandered back to it again. He looked like he was considering it so I began slowly making my way and in that moment he made a decision that he could do it. One foot onto the plank, and then the second foot missed and he fell.
He twisted as he fell and landed on his back, he was wearing a hoody and the hood flew up under his head as he fell, and the ground was fairly soft bark/mulch so thankfully it was a softer landing than it could have been.
As I saw him fall and ran towards him, I thought nothing apart from wanting to grab him and hold him close but as I saw him land the ground I had a gut feeling that he was ok. He cried immediately and want a cuddle right away. I held him close as he sobbed.
His body was fine. He’d bitten his tongue so his mouth was full of blood but after a few minutes of cuddling he sat down with a snack and quickly returned to normal. He really is incredible. I could not have pulled myself back together so quickly if that had happened to me.
I find so much of parenthood is probably more traumatic for us as parents and it’s really important for us to process things in the moment so we figure out how we’re going to react and what it will teach our children. My kid wanted a cuddle but then he wanted to be left to eat his snack and if I’d fussed it would have said that wasn’t a brilliant and admirable response, which it was.
Everyday in this stage of toddlerhood I’m finding that the little guy is getting more bold, more brave and more independent. There are so many moments, where I’ve previously thought, ‘oh he can’t do that yet’ or ‘he won’t do that yet’, where he’s clearly decided, ‘today’s the day!’ There’s no knowing what he might attempt.
Should I have stopped him going on the climbing frame? No. I don’t think so. He could do the big bridges and he could do the slide. Should I have hovered nearer the plank bridge ready to catch him? Possibly. But I’m not totally convinced. (I certainly will next time though!) You’d have thought that after a fall like that a toddler might think, ‘Ok, I know I can’t do that now’ but actually it’s the opposite. I now know he’ll attempt it again. He’s learnt that he might fall that he’ll be fine, which is terrifying!
However, although I want to protect him, hold him close and make sure no harm comes to him, I also want him to gain independence and to become his own person. The reality is, I cannot be hovering next to every challenge that he will undertake. But, what I can do is be ready to comfort, to talk, to process the challenges (and possibly attempt to catch him)!
I can imagine I will write a similar post one day when he’s ready to leave home which makes me realise that this may be a struggle for the whole of motherhood. What are your scary experiences of your fearless toddler gaining independence?