Yesterday as I was mowing the lawn, I had what I suppose is a universal parenting experience. Addie was riding her bike back and forth between our neighbors' driveways. When she got to the point where she would have to turn around, 50% of the time it almost resulted in her falling off her bike because she doesn't understand how to make a turn like that yet. As I watched, I would cringe every time she made the turn around and at one point was about to yell to her to get off her bike and just turn it around manually when a thought occurred to me... how will she ever learn to turn around? I had a severely deep moment while watching her - trying to think through the balance of parenting between risk and safety when you're raising your kids. I want my kids to be bold, confident, but not stupid. The first time you do anything it will involve risking pain - riding a bike, playing a sport, dating, driving a car, anything can have negative consequences. But it is worth the risk.
Ultimately I just held my tongue because I thought it was worth the risk of a skinned knee to have a daughter who could confidently work her bike. Plus, I wanted her to know I believed she could do it. As she would go flying by, pink streamers flying on her handlebars, huge grin on her face, I had to stifle an urge to tell her to slow down. Oh boy.
But you know what? I don't want to be the dad of that 17 year old that hasn't gotten their driver's license yet because they're too scared (or lazy) to drive. I guess that means I've got to start getting used to the internal cringe that happens when my daughter does things which risk pain.