I Believe I can Fly! Wednesday January 21, 2015
When he was four years old my brother broke his arm.
Now even in those days (the early 70s), doctors were well aware of the darker side of life and any parent presenting a child with a broken limb was faced with a gamut of hard questions about how that broken limb had come about.
Our mother was embarrassed and searched desperately for the right words to explain.
"Well, it's like this," she said finally. "He was balancing on a fence post pretending to be a bird. Then he tried to fly away..."
The doctor gave her a hard stare before bursting out in laughter. "You couldn't make that one up!" he said.
Now, if my mother had seen my brother balancing on a narrow fence post she would probably have said "Get down from there: it's not safe!" Because we spend a lot of our time and attention as parents trying to keep our children safe and protecting them from dangers. If we look back we can hear some of those messages our parents told us.
The problem with that is that our children can emerge as adults scared to try anything new because it's not safe. We can also fear things that are benign or at least neutral because of the messages we have heard over and over again.
So I've tried always to encourage my children to climb trees, to swim in the sea (not the local river; which really can be dangerous), to take on every new challenge and opportunity that comes their way.
But I've also made sure they had gymnastics lessons to help with the climbing and balance, swimming lessons so they're competent and confident in water, and all the support and coaching they need to help them with those challenges and opportunities.
Fortunately neither of them has yet broken a limb as a result of falling out of a tree, or off a horse, nor has drowned in the sea, and both embrace every chance of having fun that falls in their path.
I'm rather in favour of taking sensible risks. After all, you don't know if you can fly until you try, do you?
A Moodscope member.