Dangerous excursions down the stairs

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

It is early evening, and I am pottering around upstairs before the bedtime rush, switching on lamps and removing some of the obstacles on the floor in the hallway. Jellybean is sitting at the top of the stairs humming to herself.

'I'm gonna go down on my bottom.'

'Okay, good.'

'I'm gonna go REALLY FAST.'

I stop with an armful of folded clothes. Jellybean has that look on her face that suggests she knows she's asked for something that she knows isn't allowed but she's pushing it regardless. She's ballsy that way.

'Er, no. Not really fast.'

She sighs. 'Okay.' She pauses. 'I just go a little bit fast-ish.'

As a parent I have certain pressure points. Things that make my heart skip a beat and make my feet feel a bit funny. Those things include, but are not limited, to:

  • Our stairs with the stupidly hard floor at the bottom
  • Small children eating whole grapes
  • A large dog running towards us at speed at the park
  • Monkey bars

It's not that I am totally against those things. I like grapes and stairs and dogs, and, well, I guess I'm not bothered either way about monkey bars. There's just something about those things and my kid that make me feel a little bit queasy. I can't hide it, either. As much as I'd like to be Laid Back Mum, I can't. I see a little kid running around with a grape in their mouth and inside my brain an alarm starts ringing and red lights start flashing. 'DANGER!'

Children need to take risks, otherwise they never learn to manage them. I get that. I read a good article recently about how we can inadvertently teach girls that it's cute to be scared. I vowed when I read it that I would bite back my 'be carefuls' more often. So when she makes an obstacle course and flings herself across it or leans right back on the big girl swing, I don't say 'be careful'. I just think it. I say 'wow, that looks like fun!' and hope for the best. The last thing I want is for my kids to feel too scared to attempt anything beyond their comfort zone, and the little things you reinforce time and time again, seemingly inconsequential, can add up to a message that I never intended to teach them. I never wanted to see myself in the role of 'Muu-uuum.' You know, the person that they roll their eyes at.

However. Some things are just out of bounds. I grew these people in my belly: I went through horrific pain to get them, and I spent (and am still spending!) their babyhoods trying to protect them, stopping them from sticking their fingers in the plug sockets and picking up chokeable objects, and so on.

The least they can do is allow me to be all paranoid about stairs and cut up their grapes for them. If necessary I will pull out the ultimate Mum card: 'Because I said so.'

They can consider it payment. ;)


  1. Pete and I were talking only recently about all the things you do as a parent for LOs. Keeping them safe but also giving them confidence to take risks. I totally get this Meg. There are a myriad of messages we give them without realising ...

    We only found out recently that eldest fell off his motorbike so many more times than he told us (and that's only because his brother told us). Not that he was a bad rider more other road users and when there was ice on the road. I get the washing machine stomach just typing it. He didn't tell us because we would worry. So glad he moved on from the motorbike phase :)

    1. Argh motorbikes! My worst nightmare! My Mum would have had a meltdown if one of us decided to get into motorbikes. I can imagine how relieved you were when he moved on from that!

      I'm trying to be more of a laid back less-worried Mum. Not sure if its working or not. ;) x

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