Kimmie is approaching major deadlines related to her dissertation, a project I now refer to as the trial of my existence, so I’ve tried to take the boys away for the weekend for the last several weeks. Only I would never actually refer to her dissertation as the “trial of my existence” because writing dissertations makes Kimmie a little sensitive to me even jokingly saying things like “trial of my existence.” Mainly because, (and I’m paraphrasing her right now) the status of enduring the trial of one’s existence is only available to those who are actually WRITING the dissertation. Anybody else is just whining.
On one of these weekends away, I spent a weekend in Zion with my parents where I hiked 8 miles in one day, and questioned my parenting skills 2 ¼ miles up the Angels Landing trail. What possessed me to take my 8 year old ADHD child on a hike with thousand feet drops on either side, I don’t recall. My father insists that 100 foot drops are just as dangerous as 1000 foot drops and this message was reiterated at the visitor’s center where the attendant insisted that the Emerald Springs trail has had more falls that resulted in death than Angel’s Landing. There were moments where my son bee bopped along bouncing light and carefree. I know a person isn’t supposed to instill their irrational fears upon their offspring. But I strongly feel that the fear of heights is not irrational – it is an evolutionary adaptation – instilled TO KEEP ONE ALIVE. I kept saying that what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger, and my calves and thighs believed it but my mind never bought in. I tried to grab onto Riley at all moments possible and did everything I could to instill the fear of heights into him. But he seemed exempt. Even as we were hanging from metal chains clutching to the chains and the mountain, Riley was confident. At one resting point, I finally convinced Riley to wait with me while Papa finished the hike. I couldn’t take a step further. Riley agreed to wait with me but for the last few weeks he has said he regrets that decision. We all made it down uninjured so I am happy.
I know I am overprotective and I need to work on letting Riley make his own way in the world more. Clearly Angel’s Landing was not the place to experiment with Riley’s independence. I know I’m overprotective, but I can’t stand the thought of him getting hurt. Often his confidence level doesn’t match his skill level. He’s the type of kid who is the first to leap off the high dive without ever thinking about having to then swim to the side of the pool. I think the more he longs for his physical freedom, the more I try to hold him in. Yesterday he went into the store to return a Red Box movie and it bothered me to let him cross the parking lot alone. This child will climb up the outside of a tube slide at the park. He will try to do back summersaults down a flight of stairs. He will crawl inside a laundry basket to see if he can “slide” down the stairs without “crashing.” He thinks a hornets nest is a science experiment. Electricity is also a science experiment. Don’t you know that you haven’t actually mastered riding a bike until you can do it hands-free while traveling straight at a toddler who happens to be your little brother and stopping just in time without ever grabbing the handle bars….And what will happen if I light my hair on fire? I follow him around begging him to “make safe choices.” But I have learned that the only reason he doesn’t do those (what I would deem unsafe) things is because I am watching and ask him not to. He has not “learned” not to do them.
When he does learn a lesson. It seems the lesson is pretty specific. For example, he might get a card turn in Spanish class and learn the lesson that you should not crawl around on your hands and knees while barking like a dog while your teacher is lecturing. The lesson is not simply pay attention. So the very next day Riley might get another card turn and again learn an important lesson. The second lesson might be something like, you cannot do handstands while making chicken sounds when you’re supposed to be reading. Do you see that there are many lessons in life to be learned?
My favorite card turn story as of late is the following. Riley drew a face and mouth out of his fist so that when he moved his thumb it appears that his “friend” was talking. Last week he was in Spanish class practicing the art of ventriloquism with his fist. His teacher chastised him and asked him to be quiet. Riley looked at his fist and passed along the frustration, “Friend”, he said, “you need to be quiet and you need to apologize to Maestra Mary Lou.” Using his best ventriloquism, his fist then responded, “lo siento maestra.” Yep, you guessed it. card turn.
Since every lesson must be experienced firsthand by Riley himself, I’m not sure my summer plan will work. But this summer I am committed to underprotecting. Keepign him safe certainly. But letting him get hurt. I am committed to letting Riley break his arm this summer.
Details of the injury TBD. But I’m betting it is bicycle related.