Kids can be safe without being infantilized

Just posting my support of the FreeRangeKids movement (back to sanity) with some wonderful examples anecdotes of my own.

Last year, while camping with friends and acquaintances, my husband was trying to start an embroidery project when Buddy, not yet two, really wanted to help.  Daddyman willingly shifted gears, showed Buddy how the needle needed to go back into the same side of the linen cloth as it came out of, and that one end of the needle was sharp, and let him go at it, holding the hoop for him as he worked.  Buddy’s stitches were about an inch long, but he had fun and he learned something new.  I can’t tell you how many comments we got about this little exchange, both positive and negative: some about our refusal to gender-identify pastimes, some about the validity of Daddyman handing over his project to his son, and many, many comments about letting our one year old (gasp!) use a needle.  What was the worst he was going to do with it?  Stab someone in the eye or the carotid with enough force to do damage?  Get a bloodstain on his fabric if he (oh noes!) pricked his finger?

Fast forward one year later, and look at what Buddy did for about three hours yesterday afternoon!

This is a real bow, with a real arrow. No rubber bands or suction cups here, TYVM.

The man behind Buddy is his courtesy-Uncle, who has taken Buddy under his wing, and my little guy couldn’t be happier.  He first tried archery back over Memorial Day weekend, also with his uncle, and this was his first chance to shoot since then, so he was really REALLY excited.  So excited that he didn’t even want to go see the waterfalls in the woods nearby, which Big D really DID want to go see, so when, after about an hour, his uncle offered to work with Buddy while I took Big D swimming, I took him up on it.

Yup, you read that right: I let my two-year old use a real weapon when I wasn’t even there to supervise.

Was he safe?  As safe as his uncle could make him and allow his full participation in the practice session.  The safety rules for Buddy were the same as the safety rules for the adults in attendance, with the one exception being that Buddy had to have an adult, either his uncle or myself, watching him while he practiced, since, well, he’s TWO, and there are a *lot* of things to remember when trying to propel a stick of wood into a target twelve feet away.  (It was a cute little target, put up just for the kids. Real in every way, just miniature sized, and far closer than it would be for an adult archer.)

I came back from swimming with D (ohmygosh, was that lovely) just in time to see my proud little guy hit the butt (the large pad of foam that the target bullseye is attached to), his third time that day.  He stepped back from the line, put his bow down (all in accordance with the safety rules) then ran to me and said “Mommy!  Mommy!  I hit the target in it’s butt!”

Kind of makes me wonder what he’ll be doing this time NEXT year!  >:)

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2 Responses to Kids can be safe without being infantilized

  1. Resa says:

    My philosophy is that living is inherently dangerous. While I’m going to do my best to protect my kids and not expose them to needless risk, I also, on the other hand, want them to live and not be afraid. I want them to know that they are capable people, and to be confident dealing with the world on their own terms. They wouldn’t get that if I had put rubber bumpers on everything in sight and never let them out from under my watchful eye.

    So I love your post and hope your son is continuing to enjoy his archery.

    • Siggi says:

      He is, Resa, thank you!

      I’ve been talking to my kids about risk-taking lately, about analyzing the risk-to-fun ratios. Riding a bike with a helmet on is just as fun as riding one without one, and much safer, but riding the horse is WAY more fun than just petting it. I read a great quote the other day, something about ships are safest in harbor, but that isn’t what ships are made for. Kids *start* by crawling, but were born to soar!

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