Friday, May 18, 2007

Mother Talk Blog Bonanza: Danger!

Yes, here I am, participating in another blog bonanza, related to another book I haven't read. (Disclaimer: the MotherTalk Blog Bonanzas are linked to topics raised by certain books in the news, but not necessarily to the books themselves. So the not reading thing shouldn't be an issue.)

Anyway. I've been thinking a little about boys and danger lately, mostly because Nick has had two black eyes and more than a few bruises and scrapes in the last three weeks. This came as a shock to me because he was my cautious baby. Mariah threw herself into things as a little one: she started walking at ten months, before she really knew how to stop. So she fell a lot, she ran into things, she tripped. And she got back up again, and again, and again. We had a tall metal slide near our apartment in LA, and I remember my dad being shocked at how boldly she climbed up it, grabbed the overhead bar, and flung herself down it, thumping her feet HARD as she came down.

She did break a wrist doing something similar in our basement a few years later, but for the most part she was fine. And at some point she became a little more cautious, a little more like her mother.

Nick, though, was slow to walk, and careful when he did it. He looked behind himself when he sat down, making sure he had a clear spot. He crawled downstairs backwards, carefully. We did have an emergency room visit with him, but it was pneumonia, not a broken arm. Because he was such a careful kid, we stopped worrying about him, stopped insisting he wear a helmet when he scootered or skateboarded, let him play outside with friends without supervision. (And yes, we live on a reasonably busy city street--it's not New York, but it's no suburban cul-de-sac, either.)

Somehow, though, he's gone the other way from Mariah: as she got more cautious, he got less so. Is this a gender thing? Or did her early risk-taking teach her fear and caution, while his early caution gave him confidence? In either event, I've seen a range of behavior from both kids, none of it so terribly dangerous that it gives me pause, though some of it might not quite pass muster with the safety police. Since I grew up playing in a vacant lot (where, yes, I did once get snagged by barbed wire and need a tetanus shot), walking to school by myself, and riding the bus to the end of the line for fun, I wish for more freedom for my kids, not more rules. So far they seem like they can handle it.

(The book I'm --loosely-- talking about here is The Dangerous Book for Boys, by the way. I'm intrigued, I must admit...)

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