I came across this important article again this morning, that I am sure I shared back when it first came out late last year. It’s a reminder to me of the importance of the environment we allow at Karana, where children DO often come up scraped and bumped, but where also they are experiencing an authentic, natural childhood, that WILL ground them in risk management processes.
A very old saying I know – “Better a broken bone, than a broken spirit” – also whispers in my ear. I never broke a bone as a child – but boy did I long to wear that plaster trophy of honour that several of my friends did. I cannot say it was quite the same breaking a bone as an adult – it was more of an embarrassment than a rite of passage, and I’ve done it several times. I did however, always learn a lesson from it.
The temptation to cotton wool children against injury is high. None of us ever wants to see a child get hurt. BUT, it is also an important part of life.
I’ll never forget for instance, that going down a very steep hill on a scooter with no brakes – is NOT a good idea. My knee still wears the scar of that lesson from many decades ago. From that – I learned to watch the bigger neighbourhood kids negotiate the hill we lived on. I noticed how they didn’t go STRAIGHT down, but instead did a zig-zag formation across the road. Turns out they weren’t just doing that to be “fancy” – they were protecting their knees! And so from that little episode – I learned an important lesson about managing risk. If I’d just been stopped in the first place? Or told how to go down the hill? Well, I sure wouldn’t have that ugly scar on my knee – BUT I also wouldn’t have learned WHY. These days, ask me about steep hills and wheeled things – and I’m all over it!
Sometimes we have to fail, to succeed. And in fact – I’m very sure that the biggest life lessons I’ve learned, came from my mistakes and failures. Often a case of misjudgment, of lack of understanding or skill….. but ALWAYS a case of there being a risk, and taking it anyway. When we really think about it – what do we do in life that ISN’T “taking a risk”. For me, stepping out of bed in the morning is a risk. There’s a good chance that I’m going to tumble. I could stay in bed, where it’s safe…. sure. But where would that get me?
I love to see children pushing themselves. I love to see them climb higher than they ever have before. I love to see them feel the wind as they race around behind big dump trucks. I love to see them building forts and constructions that go higher than they can reach from standing on the ground. I love to see them shimmy up a pole to touch the shade cloth at the top. I love to see them jump from rock to rock, or log to log. I love to see their bodies experience gravity as they jump from high places to the ground below. I love to watch them rough and tumble together………
It is from all these places, that I remember the joys and thrills of my own childhood. And sure – sometimes there is pain involved. And my scars are a good reminder of that. BUT my! Am I proud of those scars, and the part of my life-learning they represent.