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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.

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Lex McKee Wed, Jan 21st 2015 @ 6:23am

Beautifully written, Mary. Fascinating that by protecting ourselves from so much we end up making oursleves more vulnerable. Here's to mud, trees and jumping into the Sea (the shallow bits).

Anonymous Wed, Jan 21st 2015 @ 6:30am

Thank you Mary, this is so true. Is lack of adventure nature or nurture...would love to know people's thoughts on that...?
Love from the room above the garage x.

crafty wee midden Wed, Jan 21st 2015 @ 6:32am

Remembering that my mother( who was burned to death in a fire 3 years ago) was overprotective but in a rather selfish way....she could not ber to see me hurt, feeling pain, etc(too long to go into, but it was more about her than me. You'll just have to take my word on that) hence .i gt no vaccinations, immunisations, not even the polio sugar lump. Im 59, and a few years back had to go or a corse of tetanus hots, told the nurse, and at first she don't believe me..."you must have had them when you were young!" ...nope. Not a one.

Penny Wed, Jan 21st 2015 @ 7:37am

Love it Mary. It reminded me of when I had a dream that I could fly. I woke up so convinced that all I needed to do was flap my arms that I stood on the bed and tried. Did not break anything in the attempt though! You are right I get really frustrated when I see a mother with a kid not letting them climb the climbing frame in the playground because they might fall. We all have to fall before we can learn how to climb.

Anonymous Wed, Jan 21st 2015 @ 7:52am

Perfect, Mary. If we don't try things, how do we know what we can do? I did climb a tree, fell and broke my arm...awful, awful, awful...however, after the pain subsided, it was rather fun having peeps write on my cast, having attention for a change, (youngest of five...attention was split obviously!!) and it was my right arm...I write with my left!! I still climbed trees afterwards, but didn't do it wearing the silly long dress that I had been wearing at the time...I was Maid Marian and Robin Hood was chasing me, hence the fall! Lol! Karen x

Rupert Wed, Jan 21st 2015 @ 8:24am

Good post Mary. Not sure if you are alluding to how we should lead our own lives too as I would say that from experience that it is the more optimistic amongst us who take risks and maybe we should try and do the same and not be held back by the way we feel. I am all for that! Rupert

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jan 21st 2015 @ 11:21am

Hi Rupert, Yes - let's take risks too as adults! Just not stupid risks....

Silvia A Wed, Jan 21st 2015 @ 3:16pm

Sorry for your mother.
English is not my mother tongue, could you please explain what does it mean "the polio sugar lump"?

It is so important to get a vaccination to protected against tetanus.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jan 21st 2015 @ 4:55pm

Hi Silvia, Back in the 1960s children received the polio vaccination, which was taken orally, on a cube of sugar, which made the taste palatable. In those days parents weren't up in arms about how much sugar their children were imbibing and were just grateful that their kids could be protected against the ravages of polio free on the National Health!

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