This is the scene that brought two screaming mothers racing up the path.
Two boys, alone and obviously in danger, playing perilously along the edge of the pond, mere moments from... what exactly?
(This pond is about 6 inches deep here. I know because L has fallen in it before*.)
I thought the mothers would laugh and realize their mistake when they saw me sitting on the bench right there, but on the contrary they rushed right over and pulled the boys away from the edge. "No, no!" they yelled. "It's dangerous! You can't play here." And then, looking at me, repeated: "It's dangerous!"
I reassured them that the boys knew what they were doing, and I was right there, but they were not to be deterred. Their constant refrain? "Something could happen!"
Like my favorite movie heroine, I can never think of the right thing to say at the right moment. Later that evening, I was still thinking about their words: "Something could happen." I thought and thought and, hours later, I finally came up with the perfectly-worded response. "So what?!"
I wish I would have said that at the time. So what!? Since when is our goal as parents to make sure nothing happens to our kids? Parents are charging themselves with the task of foreseeing and then eliminating and avoiding every possible injury or negative experience that might happen to their kids. I want to lower the bar.
Basically, I want my boys to survive childhood and avoid life-altering injuries if possible. I don't want them to be paralyzed, lose any limbs, or get any third-degree burns, or gouge out their eyes. But tumbles and skinned knees and accidental falls into the pond when I'm standing a few feet away? I'm not going to worry about those. I don't even want to sweat the possibility of broken arms from falling off the jungle gym or out of a tree.
The thing is, kids learn from those injuries and mishaps.
*The very next time we went to the pond, after L fell in that day, he headed straight for the edge again. "Be careful!" I warned. "I am be carefuling!" he answered indignantly, as he lowered himself on to his belly and scooted toward the edge. He hasn't fallen in since.