Freedom, Common Sense, and Safety

Down

  • Calvin slept in today and, perhaps as a result, skipped his afternoon nap. This meant he was incredibly cranky and clingy by 5. We (tried to) eat around 6. Calvin picked at a bit of his food before announcing he needed to use the potty. He did use the potty but didn’t want to get back in his chair. However, one of our rules is that you don’t have to eat but you have to sit at the table when everyone else is eating supper. So, I sat him back in his high chair. He complained a little bit but then asked for his milk. I gave him his milk and he put it in his burrito bowl. I was starting to tell him that milk was for drinking, not playing, when he exclaimed, “no milk!” and threw his cup across the table. The bulk of the milk narrowly missed our computers. I picked Calvin up and put him in his room for a 2 min time-out. Calvin screamed the entire time and I thought he threw up but after the two minutes I went in and didn’t see any evidence of it. I hugged him and explained that we don’t throw things when we’re upset. However, we decided that he probably needed to go to bed early so Jaeger finished eating while I held Calvin. Then Jaeger put Calvin to bed while I finished eating.

Ups

  • We had several days of very good weather last week. On Thursday we were in at the park for almost 2 hrs and I just laid in the sun while Calvin burbled around the park.
  • We had a family outing to the plane museum yesterday. That excursion went really well. Calvin especially enjoyed riding around in little plane tricycles they had.
  • I have officially resigned from the PA committee at church. I tried to do it back in fall but couldn’t find anyone to take my place. However, it’s almost nominating time again and I’ve told the PA leader that I do not intend to continue next year. On one hand, I feel pretty guilty because there aren’t enough people as it is. However, I feel that me spending time on Sabbath morning dealing with the MediaShout script isn’t good for Calvin. It was only once a month but I also play the piano once a month which requires someone else to look after him. So, for now, I think I have a bigger responsibility to Calvin than I do to PA.

Calvin Moment

As Calvin gets older I’m increasingly conflicted over how much I should weigh safety risks when I let him do things. I’ve read books such as Free-range Kids, by Skenazy, and The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, by Mogel, and agree that we have a tendency to be over-obsessed with controlling every aspect of our children’s lives. However, it’s harder for me to restrain my compulsive tendencies. I keep thinking in the back of my head, “well sure, it’s unlikely that $x is going to hurt him but can I live with myself if it does?”

When the AAP changed their policy to officially state that children should ride rear-facing until two I started panicking and wondered if I should turn Calvin back to rear-facing. I specifically got a massive car seat so he could stay rear-facing for longer than standard, which was one-year at the time, but had turned him around at 21 months. After seeing the policy update, I wondered if I should turn him back to rear-facing until he reached the weight/height limit max for rear-facing. I talked to our pediatrician at our last well-baby visit and he basically told me that our society obsesses too much with safety. He pointed out that everyone would be safer in a rear-facing seat but we don’t expect adults to ride that way. Then he told me that since Calvin was two it was fine that I have him in a forward-facing seat. This is why our pediatrician is a good fit for me. He balances my more extreme tendencies with common sense.

Friday we went to a nearby playground. This playground has several different level. The first is around waist-high for me, the 2nd is just barely over my head, and then the final level is significantly higher than I can reach. We got to the playground and Calvin enthusiastically scrambled up the first level and gleefully slid down the little slide. I didn’t panic at all as he’d have to fall at a very odd angle to hurt himself at that height. Then he moved up to the middle tier. This had me a little more nervous as there was a opening on one side, opposite the slide, that he theoretically could fall from. I quickly walked over to that opening to be in place in case I had to catch him. Then Calvin started climbing up to the third level. This is the point when I started to feel panic bubble up. While the third level is high, it is enclosed with a fence taller than Calvin and also designed so he wouldn’t have any footholds to try to climb up the fence (at least at his age). In addition, the slide at the very top is a tunnel so the worst that is likely to happen if he slid down it was either get stuck or come down head first. The most dangerous area really is while he climbs the stairs to the very top level. They are fairly steep and if he fell backwards it could be pretty dangerous. Except . . . Calvin has been climbing stairs for quite a while now. I couldn’t figure out if I should be at the top of the slide to make sure he didn’t fall from the stairs or at the bottom of the slide to catch him if he came down too fast. I was listening to a babble of voices in my head. On one side I heard Skenazy and my mom. On the other, I heard child protective services. Amid all this babble in my head one of the older children at the playground asked, “is he allowed to go down that tall slide?” I replied, “I don’t know.” At which point the boy looked at me dubiously no doubt wondering why the child’s mother hadn’t given me more explicit instructions. It turned out not to be a big issue. Calvin did scramble up to the very top but decided he didn’t want to go down the slide after all so he carefully backed down the stairs again to a level I was more comfortable with.

Later on, Calvin started trying to climb the smaller arched ladder on the first level. I was a little dubious about this as I figured he could fall through the rungs and whack his head, or possibly wind pipe, on the way down. However, it only went to my waist level so was very easy for me to hold my hands in a position where I could grab him if he started slipping. Then, Calvin decided he wanted to climb the arched ladder on the 2nd level. This level goes just above my head so I would be in a significantly worst position to catch Calvin if he fell. The biggest challenge was the step from the last rung to the main playground equipment. In order to transition, Calvin had to carefully grab the surrounding fence bars and then do a mini-jump from the rung to the 2nd level. He did it 3 times. Each time I waited under him with bated breath hoping that I would be able to catch him if he fell. He never did. However, I’m still not sure if I should have been letting him do that or not.

Anyway, I’m still working on figuring out the difference between a reasonable safety rule and an excessive safety rule that will negatively impact his confidence and athletic skill. I suspect this isn’t something I’m going to solve anytime soon *sigh*.

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