I like to consider myself a pretty chill, laid-back kind of dad… just a little less so when it involves the possibility of my child getting hurt.
What I’ve learned in just over two years of parenting is that I do not want to be a dad who’s every other word is ‘no’, ‘stop’, ‘be careful’, ‘put that down’, ‘get down from there’, ‘watch your fingers’…or a parent who’s constantly hovering…i.e. at the park, actually in the play structure with their child – not to play with them; but to protect them, to make sure they don’t go too fast, don’t trip, don’t fall down.
At the end of the day, ‘boo-boos’ are inevitable…they’re a part of life. Kids are meant to go fast, trip, fall down, scratch their knees, get ‘goose eggs’ – it’s a part of growing up.
So for me, the challenge is striking a balance between “my kid needs to experience being a kid” with, “time to intervene before it’s off to the ER”.
But how do you intervene without hovering… or mitigate against injury while remaining laid-back? Can’t we just keep them in a bubble?
It’s probably easier if we look at a few examples:
The other day my 2-year old is teetering at the top of the stairs, doing a twirl in an Elsa costume two sizes too big…while extremely cute, there’s nothing “chill” about it. Odds of a tumble are high, so I get close immediately while keeping my cool, hoping she doesn’t fall, but there to catch her if (and when) she does.
Jumping on the bed.. I’m not going to stand in the way of a good ole fashion, childhood pastime…
But the odds of falling off exist, so when there is a fall, I am there to pick you up, kiss your “boo-boo” and hope you don’t do it again.
Running on a gravel sidewalk…
No crystal ball needed, you see that fall coming from a mile away, it’s a skinned knee waiting to happen… but nothing a band-aid can’t take care of… so run like the wind.
I’m hoping that as my girls grow and learn, so do I; that “when to step back” and “when to intervene” becomes instinctual and I don’t have to question my reactions. Maybe I’m living in my own bubble?