I’m having trouble with Mr TT. It’s not because he’s in full threenager mode, has an aversion to wearing pants and thinks the words “poo”, “bum” and “wee” are utterly hilarious. It’s not his fierce determination and stubbornness or big blue eyes that wrap people around his little finger. In fact it’s not him. It’s me. I’m having trouble with Mr TT growing up.
At nearly four years old, my baby boy is now a big boy. Something he constantly reminds me of when he defiantly shouts “I’m not a baby! I’m a big boy!” Miss T was a crazy toddler tornado but Mr TT takes things to a new level.
This point was rammed home on our recent family holiday to my happy place – Rottnest Island. We spent ten days there with close friends and their kids. Mr TT had a ball building cubbies, climbing trees and partaking in one of his favourite activities, digging holes at the beach.
Trying to keep up with his 5 year old bestie, I watched as he hooned around for hours on his balance bike. Each day he gained more confidence and it wasn’t long before he was hooning down hills and scaring the bejesus out of me. I yelled out the words “careful”, “slowly”, “no” and “concentrate” more times than I can remember.
On day 6 of our holiday I watched him hoon down a little hill on his balance bike – something he had done many times before – feet off the ground, at full speed… into a wall. He forgot to turn the corner and I saw his little body slam into the low wall of an accommodation villa and flop onto the ground.
How he didn’t break any bones I do not know. His bike helmet bore a lot of the impact. I’m thankful we have a non-negotiable rule with our tornadoes that they can only ride a bike if they have shoes and a helmet.
One ambulance ride to the Island hospital and two stitches under his eye later, we were back at our villa and I cuddled him tightly. That night as I tucked him into his bed, he gave me a kiss and said “Mummy, I like going fast.” Heaven help me.
The next day he was back on his bike, but the little hill was out of bounds. Most Western Australians consider falling off their bike at Rottnest as a rite of passage. I can still remember various spots on the island where I fell off my bike as a kid. I never rode into a wall though.
It’s a fine line – how much do you let your kids explore versus how tightly do you keep them close to protect them? I don’t want to be a helicopter Mum. I know that I can’t wrap my kids up in cotton wool. They need to grow and learn things for themselves. It doesn’t mean I like it and secretly want to monitor every thing they do until they are 21.
The nurse at the hospital told me that this feeling doesn’t go. Her kids are now driving cars and it scares the hell out of her. We ditched the balance bike last month and have moved on to a big boy bike without training wheels. His obsession with his big boy bike rivals that of his love of Lightning McQueen and Batman. That’s scary enough for me right now.
How do you walk the fine line?
Do you let your kids go for it or are you more of a helicopter parent?