We went on on a little holiday with our friends to the East Coast in the Easter break, I earned the nickname “forest lady”, I think my friend thought it was funny I had strings and secateurs and a knife in my rucksac!
We had a lovely walk searching for fossils and digging holes, making little sculptures and necklaces, running in and out the sea, but then the tide came in and we were herded to the top side of the beach. We set up a little camp decided to make some nature art. Rachel began collecting only purple stones and soon all the kids were helping her, Daisy and Rachel worked for a long time collecting different shapes and sizes of the purple rocks and together they created this beautiful love heart.
The boys, seeing what Rachel was doing decided to collect stones and made a rocket, they then moved over a little and together worked together for a really long time, discussing what the needed and asking us to help gather materials. The boys decided they were building a volcano, and after at least an hour of concentration and being completely engrossed in the task they told us about their creation.
Both Rachel and I were amazed at the level of concentration the boys sustained for such a length of time. They thought about and planned what they wanted to do, solved problems they encountered and selected very carefully the right materials they needed, at one point only collecting red seaweed, (which to be perfectly honest neither Rachel or I had even noticed, but when we were tasked with collecting found so many beautiful fire coloured materials!)
Eventually creating an awesome natural sculpture.
On another outing to the “Falling Foss waterfall” and Sneaton Forest gave us chance to have fun in the woodland.
This is a brilliant enchanted place we’ve visited before and as soon a you walk from the car you feel excited as you start to spot the faces in the trees!
and the highlight for me was the fallen log across the stream. As soon as the boys saw it, Barnaby went for it, just got on and began to crawl, (I did stand back wondering, will he try and walk, what will he do? But I didn’t even have time to process these thoughts before he was on his way!)
I could read the trepidation in the eyes of my friends, wondering if they should let their son have a go, knowing he would probably want to follow Barnaby, and I have to admit a part of me was terrified…the drop was about five feet!
Quick risk assessments running through my head…
“what would be the worst thing? He might fall off…….Could I get to him quickly…..Yes?..holly bush to dive through,….are you prepared……..Yes, he needs to believe he can do it…….can he do it?
Yes, he’s strong and well balanced…… offer encouragement…… would he be seriously injured if he fell? No….. but he’d be bruised…….is it worth the risk….YES!”
With our hearts in our mouths we watch Barnaby cross the log, (Moin I knew, was also assessing and had already passed his baby to Rachel, in case he needed to leap to the rescue), then Eisaa who had waited patiently went for it.
I felt so proud to watch Barnabys oldest friend, who isn’t quite as physically strong as Barnaby, and certainly not as used to tough physical challenges build up the courage to go for it, and the sense of achievement we all felt but especially Eisaa at crossing the log, a very daring and potentially dangerous challenge was truly awesome.
Daisy not to be left out went for it next and then the three adventures had to make the return crossings!
This sparked a discussion about risk taking and how we automatically feel we want to say no to these types of activity, fearing that the children will be injured.
But something that keeps coming back to me over and over is ‘did someone watch over us playing as kids?’
The answer is no, I grew up free to roam the Marsden Moorland, often a troop of four or five, the older ones being a whole six years and the youngest only three!
No one watched over us, told us not to do things, said “watch out”, “be careful”, “don’t do that!”, we just did, we explored and experimented freely.
Did we get hurt? Injured? Yes! (Not always seriously!), But yes, we had the odd bump and bruise, scabby knees, we fell from heights, and slipped down slopes or skidded on slippery rocks in streams and we learned from this, learned that green rocks are slippery, thin branches snap! And falling off hurts!
Risk taking is essential in children’s play, and it seems today we try to remove all elements of risk, but to what consequence?
“…the more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves. If you never let them take any risks, then I believe they become very prone to injury. Boys should be allowed to climb tall trees and walk along the tops of high walls and dive into the sea from high rocks… The same with girls. I like the type of child who takes risks. Better by far than the one who never does so.”