Touch of Spice: The view from the top
We adults have boundaries. That’s OK, because generally, we’re old enough to understand what those boundaries are and, as importantly, the reasons for them.
I feel sorry for kids. They know there are things they can and can’t do, but they often don’t know what they are and they certainly don’t know why.
Part of it is their youth. Part is we adults often are pretty lousy at explaining.
“Because I said so.”
The girls know there are certain words that they have to be a certain height to say. I haven’t explained WHY they have to be that height. Mostly because I don’t exactly have a good answer for that.
BUT, I haven’t been asked yet, so … my plan (not that I actually had a plan) is working.
Six-year-old Katie furrowed her brow and asked “Mom, are we allowed to say ‘seriously’?”
I thought I misheard.
“Ummm. Yeah. You can say seriously.”
I had no idea why they thought that might be a “this tall” word. Maybe it’s the tone people use when they say it?
Anyway, after confirming that they weren’t breaching any boundaries, my two girls had to make some test runs on their new word.
“Say ‘are you kidding me'” Katie told her five-year-old sister.
“Are you kidding me,” Nikki said with all the inflections of a 14-year-old.
“Seriously!” Katie responded with the same tone.
They went back and forth a few times, practicing their new word. Evidently they needed the practice because, before then, they thought it was banned.
Last weekend, they decided to test some other boundaries. When I walked out, I saw the girls had coaxed their 4-year-old cousin Justin to climb a large juniper tree.
All three looked at me with wide eyes, certain they were in trouble.
Katie decided to head off a lecture.
“Mom, we’re being safe because we’re not falling!” she told me.
They don’t know that laughter expands boundaries. The fact that they caused me to smile with whatever they were doing always lessens the impact of whatever they were doing.
They switched to a different tree and minutes later, I heard Katie’s cries. She was laying against one rough branch with her foot caught in the fork of two others.
Again, my girl was proactive.
Though her tears, she spat, “I didn’t do it! That tree made me do it. This tree is stupid.”
I set her free, and she decided to move back to the first tree.
“By the way, this is the nice tree,” she sagely told her sister and cousin.
I said, “Katie, if you fall, you’re going to get hurt.”
She looked down and said “freaking bad!”
The look on her face told me she knew she’d just crossed a boundary.
“I mean just bad.”
I managed a stern nod before I turned around to choke back a smile.
I went inside and left them to climb, one ear tuned in for crying.
Every fiber of motherhood in me wanted to scream for them to get down.
But, the mother in me also knows kids fall. It happens. But, if you don’t let your kids climb, they’ll never reach great heights.
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