I was one of those parents who daydreamed of my kids starting organized sports.
The cute little soccer cleats and the oversized baseball pants, not to mention the absolute adorableness of grabbing ice cream as a family after their games.
But the one thing I hadn’t planned on?
The sheer pain in the you-know-what of trying to attend to a three-year-old while *somewhat* paying attention to his older brother’s game…
We’re at that tough in-between stage when our kids are on the move (like, really really on the move), but not yet ready to completely go off on their own unsupervised. They’ve got the creative drive and the energy to accomplish just about anything they put their minds to, which also just happen to be the exact same qualities that make you want to watch them like a hawk…
So when at our last game my little guy spotted some bleachers right beside his brother’s soccer pitch, I saw it as a total win-win. He could occupy himself, was well within sight, and I could easily run over to him if need be (read: catch up to him if he decided to bolt…).
Giving my ok, he toddled off, having a grand old time walking up and down the bleachers, hiding under them, climbing all over them. He was in heaven.
And so was I.
Figuring I had hit the jackpot, I happily returned to watching the game, feeling like a total boss.
Just as I was starting to get all smug, I heard him call out for me.
“Hey mom! Watch this!”
Before I even had a chance to open my mouth, I watched stunned as he leapt from the very top of the bleachers.
It was truly one of those moments when time stands still. When you’re feeling totally helpless and know you have absolutely no control over the outcome.
When you’re just too late.
When you’re imagining broken bones and split lips and arms in slings before they even hit the ground.
(Not to mention how you’re going to explain to the Emergency Room doctor how it happened in the first place…)
But you know what?
Despite all my slo-mo disaster planning, he landed like a champ.
Springing up with the agility of a gymnast, laughing and giggling. So damn proud of himself.
Realizing he was fine — more than fine, even — I picked my heart up off the ground and walked over to share in his joy.
And it really got me thinking.
Because yes, while he could have been hurt, he wasn’t.
And while he is still just three, he did it.
He took the leap.
And I have no doubt that if he had paused for even a second, I would have tried to stop him. To “protect” him. To keep him safe.
But from what, though?
Throwing caution to the wind?
Taking a leap of faith?
All those things that make life truly worth living.
So yes, he leapt.
And yes, I would have tried to stop him.
But man oh man — am I ever glad he got the chance to feel what it’s like to take that leap.
I’m curious as to your thoughts on risky play. Are you comfortable with it? Do you embrace it? Or is it something you avoid at all costs?
I’m noticing that the more I can let go and allow my kids to test their own boundaries, the more they can accomplish and the more confident they become in their abilities. Would love to hear your two cents.