Last night, my 12-year-old daughter hopped on her bike after supper, and was gone for almost two hours. She was alone, and she didn’t tell me where she would be.
And I’m fine with it.
My daughter has always loved her independence. Her most cherished memories involve heading out exploring with her best friends. When we moved to our new city, I encouraged her to get outside and play. She made some friends on the street, but none that were allowed to play much beyond their own front yards. So when my daughter asked me if she could explore on her own, I let her.
Many of us fondly recall memories that involve being out all day as children, exploring neighborhoods, forests, ravines. Of discovering “haunted houses”, making tree forts, and learning about nature. We didn’t come home until the street lights came on!
I want my kids to learn through doing. To have scraped knees and dirty nails, and many stories to tell! I believe active, outdoor play is integral to a healthy childhood, and I refuse to let my own paranoia get in the way of their development.
When my daughter came back in last night, her cheeks were flushed with cold and excitement, as she told me about where she took her bike, and what she discovered (she thought she spotted a bird believed to be extinct, but upon her describing, I’m fairly certain it was a turkey vulture), and how she wondered if she’d be allowed to follow a new trail she spotted, and then thought, “Mom would tell me to go enjoy being a kid!”
She was right.