Three-year-old Elsa and I went to the circus a couple of weeks ago and she has clearly been inspired. No, she’s not taken to sporting a red nose, oversized shoes and ill-fitting trousers whilst driving around in a rickety car with broken doors – that’s her dad’s domain – but rather, the daredevil inside her has been unleashed, and I’d much prefer if it hadn’t.
As well as the bubble blowers, jugglers and the six-foot mouse that fell in a bin and got his bum stuck (a particular highlight for Elsa), she was fascinated by the acrobats, contortionists and a knife thrower whose act I could barely bring myself to watch. She’s still too little to reach the cutlery drawer, but Elsa definitely seems more physically brave than ever and I think it’s as a result of watching the latter group of performers.
She can’t pass a chair without climbing up and jumping off the other side, we’ve had to agree on a safe number of stairs from which it is acceptable to leap down (two, and it will remain that way until she is at least 37) and she is finding ever more intriguing ways to use the skate ramp in the local park.
I was unprepared for this change. Elsa has never been exactly timid, but she has shown no interest in throwing herself around until now. She’s become a demon in the new playground that was recently opened in our village – climbing, sliding and striding across gaps between pieces of apparatus of such magnitude that I would become instantly weak at the knees if I were the one traversing the chasm.
When I Realised I Was a Wuss
And this is it – whilst she is growing in confidence and her bravery is flourishing, the realisation is dawning on me that I’m a massive wuss. She’s my baby, my firstborn, my little cherub and I’m terrified she’ll hurt herself. Of course, she most likely won’t. I was probably the same as a child and most kids like to throw themselves around with little or no issue. A lot of careful design goes in to building these structures so that they are safe, the floor of a playground is so bouncy it’s practically a trampoline and, when it comes to bouncing off a piece of furniture at home, how much damage can you do falling all of 50cm? It’s not like she’s taken up swimming with sharks. Yet.
The logical part of my brain knows all of this, it is aware that children are resilient and that her actions are a fantastic schooling in risk assessment and testing her physical boundaries. The emotional part, however, is yelling “STOP THAT NOW AND COME OVER HERE SO I CAN WRAP YOU UP IN AN INDUSTRIAL-SIZED ROLL OF COTTON WOOL!”
To everyone else, she is playing happily in the park. To me, she is undertaking a risk that is on a par with any one of these ridiculous tasks:
I once wrote about how parents were daredevils, but I was wrong. It’s not just me, though, I’ve had other parents confess their fears too:
ever since he was 3 he's climbed to the top of this. Freaks me every time. Now his sister does it too! pic.twitter.com/cjFJMjf3wV
— NicKtheguitar (@nicktheguitar) June 19, 2017
— Helen S (@HelSingleton) June 19, 2017
Now, I’m not one to make assumptions about gender when it comes to parenting and child rearing, it usually annoys me greatly, but, with a 16-week-old son as well, this isn’t going to get any easier for me is it?
What do you think? Are you a wuss too or do you love watching your kids throw themselves about as if they were indestructible? Let me know in the comments.