We are hiking down a beautiful canyon wash, surrounded on each side by towering walls and spires. Despite themselves, the boys are having a good time. Every now and then one or the other will complain, but the scenery is so enchanting that they soon forget and start having fun again, climbing on rocks, crawling in the potholes that are filled with sand. This is a child’s paradise. We pass a mother with an older son and a younger daughter coming the other way. The children look about ten and seven. The girl runs across a couple of rocks and then jumps down a foot or so to the floor of the wash. She stumbles and slips a bit, skidding on her hands, but immediately rights herself and says, "I didn't hurt myself, I didn't get hurt at all."
My (unspoken) response: "Great! Good for you, good recovery!"
Her mother's (spoken) response: "Hey, don't do that! I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again, NO running and NO jumping. You could get hurt. Then we won't be able to hike any more."
Wow. Having Rees first I really can't imagine even suggesting to one of my children that they shouldn't run or jump. It seems so cruel. They are only young once.
I have no idea what the context of this comment was and hope there is a reasonable explanation. Maybe this mother had had a terrible experience or maybe her daughter was notoriously accident prone. Maybe this daughter had brittle bones or weak ligaments or something. Then I worried maybe it was a sexist thing and the mother didn't want her daughter running and jumping. (If the girl had been dressed in her Easter finery or something that would maybe make sense.) I wondered if every time, for the rest of her life, the girl would hear her mother's voice saying: "don't run and don’t jump" every time she jumped or ran. I hope not. I hope I misunderstood, But, just for the record, I don't think "no running or jumping" is an appropriate rule. I remember the words of a babysitter who said to me, “my job is not to protect them from any hurt, but to stand in between a skinned knee and a broken leg."