Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Falling off the bed is not the end of the world

Two things happen yesterday that I had feared for a long time: Jack fell off our bed while playing, and he stepped in dog poo in the back yard.
Ever since he's become mobile, it's given me gray hairs to watch him rough-house on our bed. He loves to do it, and he loves to watch me leap in a panic to keep him from tumbling off the side to his doom. Yesterday afternoon, we were playing on the bed, and Jack ended up lying precariously close to the end, as he loved on/harassed our dog who graciously puts up with his shenanigans. I thought, "Well, what if he did fall off?" It's about a two-foot drop to a carpeted floor. How bad could it be? So I left him there at the edge, and within seconds, he fell off. He bumped his head and cried, I comforted, and two minutes later he was sitting on the floor happily pulling all the kleenex out of its box.
Now for the dog poo: For months, I have obsessively rid the yard of poo each time we played in the back yard. Yesterday, I was tired, didn't feel like scooping poop and thought, "Well really, how big a deal is stepping in poo?" I mean, it's certainly something I experienced more than once as a child. That afternoon, Jack did step in poo. I picked him up and washed his feet of with hose... and that was that.
My point here is this: I spent an inordinate amount of energy thinking about and preventing these things that did not have dire consequences. Not only are these things not that bad, but they are learning experiences. What better way to teach you not to sit so close to the edge than to fall off? And if I'm spending energy worrying about such little things as these, well, you throw in all the big things (milestones, health, sleep habits) and no wonder I'm exhausted a lot of the time!
The thing is, I wasn't a worrier before Jack was born, but with his entrance into the world, my inner control freak blossomed. I'm starting to realize/remember that...
  1. Kids are VERY resilient. How else did the human race get this far?
  2. I am a much happier momma when I step back and stop trying to control everything Jack does and everything that happens to him.
  3. Kids are happier when they get to do some things on their own, even if that entails a little frustration, failure, dog poo or head bumps.
  4. It is not only okay for kids to experience adversity, it is good for them!
The funny thing is, these are things I have always believed. I worked in child care and taught elementary school before Jack was born, and I told many a parent these same things. It's interesting how different your perspective gets with your own children.

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