Playing on the tramp

Play | Risk, kids & the urge to swing higher!

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You know that feeling when one second you are walking hand in hand down a gentle slope with your toddler having ‘a moment’,

Playing on the trampit was sunny, birds were singing perhaps, there could be ice creams involved but there is definitely fun and you are definitely present in full Mama capacity.  And then little fingers slip through yours and start charging down the aforementioned gentle slope at breakneck speed.  That slope has transformed and now looks to your eyes as treacherous as a double black diamond.  All you can see is one little foot tripping, next minute the screams start, the blood is flowing and your baby’s face has been grated all over the concrete.  Gives me the heebies just typing that!!!

That is risk taking.  I bet all of your kids have done it too; picking up speed, seeing how fast they can free themselves from the  suffocating grip of mummy’s hand.  They have run, down concrete hills, at speed, and they have not crashed and burned.  Some have, but not all.  Ethan never did, but my paranoia about running at speed down concrete paths lasted at least until he went to school.  He was on his own in the playground there and there was not a damn thing I could do about it.

When Ethan was two he was giving us hell and in desperation we went to a child psychologist.  One of the {few} things that stuck with me from this encounter was that as a mother, I needed to let him run down double black diamond hills.  Really!    He had to learn to fall, he had to learn NOT to fall, to realize what was and was not an acceptable risk to take.  If I held on tight for dear life every second he would not learn to recognize and develop his own boundaries.  This was a magic lesson for our family.  But it’s a lesson that is a hard one to impart.  I recently interviewed Dr Grant Schofield as part of the Milo Play initiative.  He reiterated this point by asking whether it was better to let an 8 year old push his boundaries and find his limits up a tree or behind the wheel of a car at eighteen.  No brainer right?

Some friends of ours purchased a trampoline for their family, no problem the kids were many years into school by this point, what a great present I thought.  Until Ethan went to play and the kids weren’t allowed on the tramp without adult supervision.  I was flabbergasted.  Were Dave and I negligent parents?  Really?  Ethan got his trampoline at age 2 and the nets came off at around 4.  No injuries.  Ever.  I just cant see the merit in treating my son any different to how I raised.  My dad built my trampoline, he welded it himself.  I broke my arms four times as a child but none of those times was from my net-less trampoline.  I was allowed to bounce at will!  It was awesome!

A child’s nature is inherently seeking challenge, growth, lessons and teaching, all of this can be attained through play.  It’s time to back off a little; play time isn’t any more dangerous now than it was 30 years ago unless you’re letting your kids play in the street.  Lets rip the cotton wool off once and for all and let them go balls-out this school holidays.

Mud washes off and scabs heal, but a childhood spent behind a screen and a closed door isn’t really much of a childhood at all is it?