Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Painful Lessons Learned

This blog was published in the Kings County Record on August 17, 2015.  My goal in this entry was to get parents to think about allowing their children to push their boundaries a little and by doing so pushing themselves too.  While I talk about the lessons the children learn, there are also lessons to learn for parents when their child gets hurt.  You may realize things about your child you didn't realize.  Maybe it will confirm for you how much your son still needs you, or maybe the opposite.  If it is the opposite, maybe you can take pride in how much he has grown.  By letting your daughter push her limits, maybe you'll see how athletic she is and maybe you'll realize you might have a major league pitcher on your hands.  Regardless, I hope you can take something from this.
My daughter teaching me a painful lesson :)
It finally happened.  My daughter had a wipeout on her bicycle.  I didn't witness it as I was at work, but apparently the whole block likely heard it.  Her hands and legs are pretty bruised and battered now but she'll be the tougher for it.  Following her bang up I started thinking about all those injuries and falls I've had in my life.  I wondered if kids today maybe don't fall enough.  I learned a great deal from the many falls and injuries I have experienced and I hope my kids learn from theirs as well.

One of the worst bike accidents I can remember happened when I was trying a jump on my BMX.  I over flew the landing area and ended up in a ditch up against an alder stump.  I cut my knee for, I think, 8 stitches.  What did I learn from this experience? Well for one, a cut on your knee is not likely going to kill you, even though I screamed like it might.  I also learned that nothing beats great neighbors when you're in a jam.  Thanks Georgette for taking me home and helping me to the hospital.

Playing sports I was usually quick.  I was a fast skater, I was a modest sprinter and a better long distance runner, and when I hike, I usually lead the group.  Being fast is not always better though.  Pushing my speed one night led me to severely breaking my wrist, but I lived and learned some limits.  Finishing a hike along the coast one afternoon, I decided I wanted to be the first to take a swim in the Bay and on my run to the water, I cut my foot open on a shell.  Those incidents have both illustrated to me that quick is not always better.

As a youth I was a bit of a daredevil and I'm sure every time I left on my bike or my skateboard my mother wanted to stop me but instead let me enjoy being a kid.  On one occasion my buddies and I stood at the top of Millbrook Road and decided it would be cool to skateboard down the hill.  Everyone hesitated to actually push off, except me.  I got part way down the hill and my wheels caught on a stone and head over heels I went.  I had to go the hospital again, this time to have the stones removed from the palms of my hand, but I lived.  The lesson learned was I don't need to prove myself to anybody.  Unfortunately, I frequently need reminded of this lesson.

As a parent today, I struggle to let my kids learn those tough, often painful lessons.  If I don't let some of those accidents happen though they will struggle to know how hard they can push themselves or realize maybe that they might be pushing themselves too far.  With every injury and mishap I experienced I found new boundaries and limits.  When I was able to quickly recover from a mishap I would realize that I could push myself a little harder and when the mishap was more drastic I would readily see that I was at my upper limit.  Learning these lessons on my own would eventually serve me as I became an independent adult and still serve me today.  Maybe the only way it didn't help me was I still have no idea how much freedom to give my kids, any suggestions?
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