Let’s See What Happens


I like to think of myself as a protective father.  Preventing harm, keeping kids out of obviously dangerous situations, clearing paths of debris because my kids never look at where they are going, my mind is now a well tuned machine set to pinpoint potential broken bones and skinned knees.

I am slowly learning to embrace the “let them figure it out on their own” philosophy. Slowly. At daycare last week the baby fell off a rocking chair when he decided to stand up on it. The firstborn was kicked right in the nose when he decided to run in front of a swing. The boys made it through the occurrences with little more than bumps on their heads and bruised egos.  The firstborn now knows not to run by occupied swings at least. The baby stood on a rocking chair as soon as he got home. His take away is that invincibility exists, and he has it. 

That mentality does not help my over protective neurosis. 

The picture above is photographic proof that I at least tried to let the oldest kiddo figure out that walking and reading are two mutually exclusive activities. 

Returning from our friendly local library with some new favorites, the firstborn had to read right away. He flipped pages on the car ride home and narrated what he thought the book was about. It was quite cute, says this biased dad. We arrived back home and he kept the book in hand walking from the driveway to the garage. He never looked up. 

My wife has been using our garage as a staging area for a now cancelled garage sale (donating stuff is so much easier). This whole week the garage has been a post apocalyptic hellscape. Piles of old light fixtures, sinks, DVDs and CDs, all the clutter that makes up a life have taken residence in the garage. 

One pile, which was always destined for our towns hazardous materials recycling facility, was paint and polish cans that are almost empty, but have no more use for our needs. You can see the pile in the top right of the picture above. 

You can see where this is going. 

The very focused four year old, the pile of near empty paint cans, a dad trying to let kids run a little bit looser… It was a recipe for disaster. When the kid reads and walks it is in the rhythm “one half step, one page read, one half step, one page read”. He was not moving very fast. I wanted to let him have the opportunity to meet total disaster at low speeds. 

One half step, one page. 

I am walking behind him carrying some bags from errands prior to the library visit and he’s moseying along. I am pretty sure all dads get a Spidey Sense for danger and as he did another half step I saw the path of doom he was taking. 

One half step, one page. 

I sigh. “He’ll look up,” I told myself. It was a big step in my toward moving out of panicked parent mode. He didn’t. 

One half step, one page. 

“He’s not going to look up,” I mutter. He doesn’t hear a thing. He’s reading about a dragon rider; I am little more than an ant at this moment. I snap a photo to show my wife later. “See! Sometimes they are actually in danger!” I planned on saying. I didn’t. Rule one; never bring up a topic that you are most certainly wrong about. That’s dumb. 

One half step, one page. 

“Ok, that’s close enough,” I say. One more half step and he smells like paint thinner for a month. I point him down a safe path and take a deep breath. No harm, no mess, no co-pay to explain to an ER doctor why my son has five types of paint in his nose. Disaster averted. 

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