Yesterday was a gorgeous day. We went to a nearby wildlife refuge with some other homeschooling preschool families. It was a fun time and a beautiful day full of sunshine and smiles. But it was also a little crazy.
As I was driving there it occurred to me that I didn’t for sure know where I was going. One of my downfalls is that I’m so used to knowing how to get everywhere that I sometimes forget to look up the little details and then I make a mistake and get lost. It doesn’t happen often…which is probably why it happens at all! I just normally don’t need any help. It’s at those times though that I wish I had a smart phone. I have an ipad but need wi-fi to use it. So it doesn’t do me much good on the road.
I remembered seeing signs for the refuge so I decided to just go for it and follow the signs. It worked for the most part. I would have been able to get there that way with no problems but it’s kind of a big place and I got a little lost trying to find the exact place I was supposed to meet my friends. We made it there though!
When we first got there the first thing Big Sis asked to do was climb a tree. I looked at the tree she was pointing at and said, “It’s not really a climbing tree…there aren’t any branches. You won’t get very high…but sure. Go play.”
So I’m talking and taking pictures and then Big Sis says, “Look at me!” She had climbed using the deep grooves in the bark of this big tree. She wasn’t super high but she was quite a bit higher than I thought she’d be able to get. I started walking over there to help her down because I could tell she would need it…and she fell. She fell hard. She was fine and there were no visible wounds other than a few scrapes but she didn’t want to walk and spent a lot of time in the double stroller with Little Bear. Good thing I had it.
But she felt better pretty quickly and by the time we were stopped for lunch she was running around with her friends and climbing more trees.
My friend was just commenting to me how impressed she was that Big Sis had gotten over any fears she may have had and got right back into another tree. I was agreeing as I heard, “Look Mommy!”
All of the moms sitting there chatting looked up to see Big Sis really high in a big tree and clearly thinking about going higher. In the picture above the bird feeder is about level with my head so she’s pretty high. I enthusiastically told her how awesome it was, took her picture, told her not to go any higher, and started talking with her about how whenever we climb UP we need to have a plan about how to get DOWN. Had she thought about how she was going to get down? That made her a little nervous.
We checked the visitor center to see if they had a ladder. They didn’t. So all the adults circled around where she was and I climbed up as much as I could. But again, she had climbed a tree without many branches by putting her tiny hands and feet into the grooves of the bark and that was not going to work for me. So I reached as far as I could and talked her down. She didn’t have to go too far before I was able to reach her feet and was able to help her climb down by supporting her feet. Once she was at a safe distance from the ground she did the rest on her own.
She told me next time she wants to get down all by herself.
She might give this mama a heart attack….haha
Big Sis thought it was so awesome. She kept telling me how proud of herself she was and how she wants to do it again. I admit that her independence and bravery…traits I want her to have….are starting to scare me. I don’t want my own fears to hold her back so I am going to try to find a balance. Letting her do things but in ways that are safe. I haven’t made any set rules yet but I’m thinking no climbing trees unless she asks…and no climbing past a certain point without me right there with her. At least until she’s older.
Do your kids do risky things like this? What are your rules? How do you balance their freedom to challenge themselves, explore the world and try new things…with the fear every mom has for their child’s safety?
Thanks for reading!