Walking, teething toddlers, overprotecting kids

This morning I thought I’d never make it if we stayed inside. So, I started working on getting the team ready to walk over to my chiropractic appointment 25 minutes before we would have to leave. And I would have made it, too. But, I couldn’t find my coat. Or my keys. Or my wallet. I searched and searched, got frustrated, called Ted, left a frustrated message on his voicemail, and finally found it fallen down between the stairway and his side of the bed. Huh?

So, rather than just giving in to the car and hauling everyone in and out of it, I called the office and asked if we could be late. No, that wouldn’t work. But, we could take a later appointment. Done! Hazel brought her bike and we meandered over there, taking 40 minutes for a mile and a half. It was a beautiful sunny day, so at least I got to feel like crap with the sun on my head. Emily fell asleep, and stayed asleep all through my appointment (yay!), and Hazel played very nicely with Joanna. Then we meandered home. That was good.

Then hell gradually broke loose. Emily became unglued. I have rarely heard her scream that loudly. She didn’t want books, food, toys, distractions. She started tugging at her ears, so I thought it must be teething, though it could have been a combination of that plus the cold she’s caught. She screamed so hard she coughed and choked, over and over again. Not sure if that set Joanna off, but I had both of them in my lap vibrating my ear drums for all they were worth. Meantime, I had a headache and the sore throat I’ve been lamenting. I gave them both a dose of children’s IB, and Hazel succeeded in reading to Emily for a few minutes so I could fling some food in the general direction of my gullet.

Ted had offered to come home early, given how I was feeling this morning, so when I was at the end of my rope, I called him. Since he could barely hear me over all the screaming, I didn’t have to say much. Unfortunately, it then took him an hour and a half+ to get home. But in the meantime, things did get better. Feeling like I was going to come unglued myself, I went into the dining room to feel the sunshine for a bit. The kids all followed me in, and miraculously, calmed down. And then I got out some frozen veggies, and that did the trick. By the time Ted got here they were pretty satisfied. *phew*

This afternoon I read this article, about some of the dangers of over-protecting our kids, and how fast things have changed in the USA in terms of the culture of childhood, the culture of parenting, and the ways in which we prioritize our concept of safety over everything else. It is very thought-provoking. Interesting for me, because I grew up in the 70’s, but in a family in which priorities were more similar to today’s, I’d say. It requires very deliberate and conscious thought and effort for me to allow my kids to take risks. I have been able to do it with Hazel, but I still find myself operating from a fearful place pretty frequently, and have to do an internal and external check. Reading the piece, I realized that I didn’t feel like the kids could play in our back yard this summer until we’d made it safe, and that the definition of making it safe meant, not manicured lawns, exactly, but something quite different from how it is right now. I am looking forward to going back there with Ted so we can take a real look at it. I want to make the changes we need to in order to make it a place the kids can play and take some risks. Finding that line is, I am sure, something I’ll constantly be re-negotiating all the years of their growing up.

This evening we went out for a walk, and a neighbor’s kids were already out and looking for Hazel. They played for a while and we talked, ironically, about the very topic of the article I’d been reading. I think we’ll be able to find some other parents who want to allow their kids some of the freedoms that were easier to find in the 70’s. It’s a bit tough to do with such a changed environment, but we’ll find ways.

With all of this rattling around in my brain, I felt quite nostalgic when I read this article about St. Louis, where I grew up. It’s got a lot to offer, including the City Museum, a fantastical playground built in an old shoe factory (there is a ten-story slide!) in which kids can explore and take risks in an environment which does an excellent job of balancing safety and adventure.

I am looking forward to hiking and camping with the crew this summer.


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