I took my youngest to explore a new park in Bayan last week. (I'm building a list of all the great parks and playgrounds in Kuwait. You can find it here.)
The park is beautiful and expansive but the play area is really for older kids and Sabel just isn't ready for climbing posts or giant slides. I was surprised, however, with her eagerness to climb over, on or between pretty much everything. She crawled up the tiers of concrete steps, undaunted. She clambered onto the balance beam and proceeded to walk it and tried to climb up to the next higher one, which was taller than she. After that she ran through the park, plucking at the grass, stumbling and falling and essentially have a blast.
Sabel started to crawl and walk early - long before she was physically ready - and as a consequence fell down quite often. We've been to the hospital emergency room several times in her two short years and as a result, I am a bit overprotective. I still make her hold my hand when walking down the stairs or even along a slightly uneven sidewalk. In other words, rather than risk her getting hurt, I hover.
This was the first time, however, I stood back and let her go. It wasn't easy. I bit my nails when she found a ladder and climbed up halfway before I had to intervene and bring her down safely. Though the park isn't toddler friendly, I could see she wanted to explore on her own. So I let her.
I realized that this moment marked a milestone. She no longer needed me at every moment. Or rather she no longer wanted me to hover. She is still hesitant and wouldn't go near a clown or a swarming mass of goldfish if you paid her.
But she is finally starting to find her feet.
She can still get hurt. Her balance is still nascent. But confidence and ability comes from trying. From trying and failing and then trying again and getting it right. So I realize I need to stop the hovering (its not as easy as you might think) and stop it now. I have to start to let go and give her the chance to fail and to succeed.
Somehow I missed this step with my older daughter, she was always adventurous. And so I'm learning a new lesson in the lifelong school of parenting: Trusting their instincts even when mine aren't sure.