My husband and I took took our kids to a park this weekend, along with his entire family. Brother in law, his girlfriend, sister in law, and her four kids, and my mother in law. We were sitting there watching the kids play on the structure when suddenly someone says "Do you think maybe that's to dangerous for them?"
It was one of those spinny seats. You know those ones that throw your center of gravity way off? The ones that spin and spin and spin until you wanna puke and then someone stops you and you can't stand up straight? Yeah. One of those.
The kids were having a blast, but suddenly this contraption became something we had to evaluate was good for them or not. I finally just said, "Cause we didn't do worse!" Suddenly the entire group BURST out laughing. Because we all know we did! Our play structures were full of tire bridges, splintering wood, rusty zip lines, merry go rounds, teeter-totters, and that one slide that looked like it was going to topple at any time. There was never the question of "Is that as safe as it possibly can be?"
I think this generation puts to much credit in 'safe'. Our kids can't climb trees, because they might fall down and hurt themselves. We wash everything that comes in contact with the ground in case it's covered in 'germs'. Our kids are bubble wrapped from their first moments, taught to run to authority in case of fights, to never do anything that might get them hurt, and if they must do these things, to wear all the protective gear they can.
When we were kids, it wasn't like that. I totally remember eating dirt. I remember getting so dirty the bottom of the tub was covered in grime when I took my mandatory bath. I remember climbing trees and play structures and jumping off them with no one there to catch me. I remember telling my mom where I'd be in the morning, popping in every now and then to tell her where I'd been, and coming back for lunch and dinner and telling her all the things I'd done. I remember scrapping my knee and leg up riding my bike without a helmet four blocks from my house, and limping home and my mom taking care of it, cause good moms do that. I remember fighting with the kids in my neighborhood, sometimes to the point of fist fights, and the moms all sitting back and saying "Work it out yourselves!"
It taught me how to being adventurous. It taught me how to know my limits, and push past them. It taught me responsibility. It taught me to get along with others, even if I didn't want to. It taught me to suck it up and learn to live a bit on my own.
Lately I've made a point of letting my children go more. Miah puts a stick in his mouth? I don't jump to take it away. He eats a little grass? Won't hurt him. He loves to play in the grass, and it's teaching him that he doesn't need to always be with me to have fun, and it's teaching him about bugs and textures and fun. Sam climbs a tree? Sweet, go for it. Wants to ride a bike without a helmet? Sure, why not. Watch when you're crossing the street. Elsie wants to run around in the big 2 acres of fenced in open field behind our church? Go girl! Go!
You want to know what I've noticed? My kids are happier. They run more, jump more, get more dirty. They laugh more, giggle more, and are more fun to be around. They are always telling me about the cool things they've done, and I'm always thrilled to hear it. No longer do I have children who are scared of their own shadow. Rather, I have children who face challenges and trials head on. That tree can be climbed, and that counter is not to high to get to. My children have suddenly become problem solvers.
Sure. Their life is a little more 'on the edge' than most children in this generation. Miah puts things in his mouth that have been on the floor. Elsie regularly chews the handle of carts just to watch people give her grossed out looks(My mom included XD). Sam climbs trees and does flips on our trampoline.
But they are happy.
I'll take that.