One thing that’s been really hard for me as a new parent is trying not to be overprotective of my Precious Little Angelkins. He’s still a little unstable on his feet, he’s young enough that he doesn’t really know how to share or play cooperatively with other kids, and all his emotions are right there on the surface barely under control. All developmentally normal for a one-year-old, but something that seems ripe for disaster when slightly older kids get into the mix.
The first time we visited the play area at the mall, I followed Kiddo around, teetering between wanting to protect him from danger and wanting him to explore at his own pace. To me it felt like the older kids were running around with no regard for smaller or slower kids. I was sure he’d get pushed or trampled or picked on, or worse. But none of that happened. Sure, he got bumped a couple times, and he fell down once or twice, and I did have to assert when it was our turn on the slide. I had a few moments of alarm, but Kiddo? He had a great time. He couldn’t wait to go back.
I had similar feelings of trepidation as we prepared for a week with relatives in California. We would be spending most of our time at the home of Kiddo’s three older cousins, and all I could picture was a four-year-old and a pair of two-year-olds zooming around excitedly, not realizing that Kiddo wasn’t as agile as them, not understanding that he doesn’t understand all the social niceties yet.
Boy, was I mistaken! There were only a couple incidents where a parent had to step in, and in general all the kids got along well and had fun together. Kiddo was happy to toddle around after them and play with all their toys, and they were great about sharing them. I’d definitely underestimated how the interactions would go.
Being around the older kids helped both Kiddo and I learn some new things. He learned how to get up on his feet all by himself, he picked up several new words, and he’s gotten much better at eating with a spoon. I discovered that reading bedtime stories is even more fun when the recipient can talk about the pictures with you, and that you never get too big for snuggles (thank goodness!) And I might have learned to relax a bit and tone down the hovering.
My niece and nephews are living proof that kids can and do survive the falls and pushes and knocks on the head. They’re also a reminder to me that the majority of the world really isn’t out to harm my little boy. I may not be ready for total free-range motherhood, but I can at least stop trying to cushion every blow and smooth out every anticipated frustration.