When I was a little girl I was rambunctious, a curious little tom-boy, my parents pride and joy and nightmare all at once. I remember being constantly covered with bumps, bruises and scrapes, my poor mother forever disinfecting and bandaging. I couldn't have been more than three or four when I tried my first major stunt; sneaking the floaties off when Mum and Dad weren't looking. My parents turned their backs for less than a minute and found their baby flailing in a pool and gasping for air. I'm sure it took them years to stop blaming themselves for not watching more closely...
I was a child of many whims, I wanted to get my hands dirty, discover if the sap got thicker the higher I climbed, figure out how far I could bike with no hands on the handlebars and climb the most slippery rock to find the biggest toads. For whatever reason, I didn't seem to know fear and I certainly didn't understand the anxiety it caused my parents.
Although I was a challenge and my parents were forced to ground and scold me endlessly, I was also the reason behind the twinkle in their eyes. After each episode the panic and anger would subside and so too would the frown. They'd pick me up, dust off my little bum and send me off to play once more. I don't know why, and maybe I've created this memory from nothing, but I'm sure that I can remember my Dad watching me run off, a huge smile on his face and eyes swimming with laughter and pride.
I'm now all grown up, I have a challenging but extremely rewarding job, a husband I adore and who somehow loves me back, and the most kind-hearted and talented friends a girl could ask for. When I think of my luck and the joy that has found it's way into my life, I know that my parents are to thank.
One day soon I'll have little ones of my own and I know that I'll experience the pang of panic when I hear a little one's cry as they approach me with a scraped up limb, but I'll always remember the gift that my parents gave me; they had the courage to step back, to not overprotect, and no matter how hard, let their little girl run free...
Because of that decision, I was able to have the confidence to try things out, the confidence that my parents believed in me, the unshakable knowledge that if I got hurt there was someone to love and tend to me, and the most important lesson of all, the resolution to pick myself up when things didn't go as planned.
Monkey bars were my favorite. I don’t know why we’ve decided that they’re unsafe for our parks. I’m sad that my kids won’t get the chance to feel how I felt, squirming around, sweating from the effort, hands screaming at me to let go. Oh well, I’m sure they’ll find something new and equally “dangerous”. I’ll scold them appropriately, kiss their bruises better and send them on their way.
But all the while, I’ll be smiling with pride and cheering them on from the sidelines.