This weekend at Panda HQ my 5yo showed us how he'd learnt to ride a 2-wheeled bike. It was exciting and filled me with mummy pride.
His school are brilliant. They have a great variety of bikes out every day for the reception children to use in the playground and he's been plucking up the courage to have a go! On Saturday morning he told me that he'd tried "the bike" and that he could ride it! I covered him in kisses and asked if he'd show me. So, at 9a.m. we rushed outside to watch, and woop, and mark it in our brains as another childhood milestone that has been reached.
What I love about my little ones school is that this opportunity to ride bikes every day is a great example of challenging play equipment being on offer and allowing the children to make choices to use them when they feel ready.
We (as parents) feel cautious offering difficult situations to our children. We hate to see them fail or become upset or frustrated. We want to protect them, keep them safe and guide them through life. The question is - How do we know that our child is ready until we try?
My 8yo daughter has struggled with any physically demanding tasks throughout her life and she mastered the same skill as her little brother merely a few months before he did, yet there's two and a half years between them. This is not a problem. She achieved it when she was ready and she's brilliant. We never made her feel like she'd achieved this skill 'late in life' or that my little boy had achieved it 'early'; just that we were proud of them.
However, I wonder sometimes whether it's me? My over-cautious parenting with the first child who reaches each milestone making her feel over-cautious too? My problem is that I see the dangers (probably a result of filling in far too many risk assessments over the years in my teaching career!) and it makes me say "be careful" more than I should.
So, I am trying so hard to let them fall more often; to let them see the risks themselves. It's hard. But I know that I am teaching them important skills - life is a challenge, but not one to hide from. If we fall, we need to get back up and carry on.