Today I sat on a chair in my parents' yard and watched the kids climb their young oak tree for over thirty minutes. Thirty minutes of climbing up and down the tree, memorizing the best pathways up and then down, climbing higher and higher with each successive trip. The look of pure joy and accomplishment on their faces at what they could now do all on their own. After one of the most exhausting weeks of my life, it was so refreshing to sit and give my children an audience for awhile - something they have been begging for all week.
And it occurred to me how important moments like these are for children and how climbing trees is not only good for their physical well being, but for their cognitive development. As I watched them I could see how easy it is to find a link between self esteem, ability to think critically, ability to problem solve, and knowledge of your own personal limits to slightly risky outdoor experiences in childhood. I have to let them take risks and I have to trust that they know their physical limits far better than anyone else ever will, including myself. Yes, as a mother, it put butterflies in my stomach to see my wild three year old daughter climb well above the height her brother was willing to climb. But she did it. And she did it all on her own. And they both did it amazingly well - feeling out each maneuver, sometimes trying one way, and then backing up to find a better way. Cautious at first, but faster and more confident as they went.
And I was able to slow down and be there, in that moment with both of them. And for that, I am so grateful.