Holding Her Hand, Picking Her Up


I was surprised this  weekend to realize that it had already been three weeks since my daughter’s ugly fall on the balance beam of our favorite park and playground.  The stitches are out, blood washed from our shirts and the future scar barely visible, but what really surprised me was that it had been that long since we’d been back. Softball practices, a few days out of town and untimely rain conspiring to keep us away.

Today we went to the park. We went back and within minutes she had found some friends to chase, a game of tag at full speed with no hesitation at any obstacle that needed to be hurdled, climbed or slid down. It didn’t take long before she decided it was time for a few walks across the beam, gingerly at first, but slowly regaining some of her pre-fall confidence.  She didn’t ask but I was there to hold her hand when it was extended.


getting back up
always climbing something


Upon returning home she decided that it was time to practice her “two wheel bicycle” riding, her term for her bike since demanding that the stabilizers be removed.

It was a productive session, each time I let go her peddling taking her further down the gravel road that passes by our home. Ten, fifteen feet at a time before her balance failed or nerves forced her feet back onto solid ground. Frustration turning to pride as it seemed that a corner had finally been turned.

Unfortunately, we all know what cometh after pride.

Determined to show mommy how well she was doing, we moved to the backyard where my wife was occupied with spring yard work.  A back yard that features a long, gradual decrease in elevation before culminating in a line of trees separating our property from the neighbors.  A long, gradual decrease that she of course was able to transverse like she had been riding a bike for years, a distance I was unable to cover on foot before the inevitable ass over teakettle ending to her ride. It was a nasty spill but fortunately resulted in nothing that required medical attention this time.  A few more scratches and bruises added to her collection.


Getting back up
rough rider


A lot has been made of the “bubble wrapping” of today’s children. The idea that we are too protective, too risk adverse.  I don’t think its a coincidence that the rise of “helicopter parenting” coincided with the explosion of the internet and the ease at which armchair quarterbacks can second guess every decision made. The judgement of the masses forcing us to justify every bump and bruise.

A popular lament is  that when we were kids we did all sorts of dangerous things all the time and turned out just fine. It’s a valid point, even if there is a tendency to forget about all the kids who didn’t turn out quite as fine. I’d never advocate for the return of rusty metal slides, riding in the back of pick up trucks or playing lawn darts at our next birthday party, but kids need to be outside. They need to run, to climb, and occasionally to fall down.  They need to know that a skinned knee or a bloody lip doesn’t have to slow them down.

I wonder now what percentage of our parental duties should be spent trying to keep them from falling, whether it’s sometimes better to simply be there to pick them back up.  Maybe the most important thing we can do is to make sure they know we are there to hold their hand when they need it.




21 thoughts on “Holding Her Hand, Picking Her Up”

  1. I agree 100%! Kids need to play outside, get dirty, and yes even get some bruises and scratches. It’s how they learn and explore!

    Hope your little lady is feeling better and better!

  2. Good post. I’m with you on your thoughts here.
    It’s great that your daughter kept going after she fell. Good traits are there.

  3. “I wonder now what percentage of our parental duties should be spent trying to keep them from falling, whether it’s sometimes better to simply be there to pick them back up. Maybe the most important thing we can do is to make sure they know we are there to hold their hand when they need it.” Exactly. They are going to fall whether we are there or not, Getting back up and helping them learn to move on is so important.

    1. I wish I’d thought of this while I was writing the post, but maybe preparing them for their falls when we aren’t there is our real job. potential future post

  4. Popping over from #TriumphantTales to say hi.
    She’s strong willed and determined for sure, i hope she’s fully recovered from all her cuts, scratches and bruises now

  5. This is music to my ears! I totally, wholeheartedly agree with your last sentence.
    I often feel like the bad mother when out and about with my kids, for letting them run and play freely, without watching their every step. So I am glad I’m not the only one.
    Kids need to know that we parents trust them to take a risk or two, and come out fine.

    1. I’m pretty sure I’ve been silently judged by sanctimommies at the park for not being attached at the hip to her, but I’m always watching

  6. Great post! It’s really tricky as a parent letting your child experience freedom when you’re constantly risk assessing, but so important to let your child learn and increase in confidence. #triumphanttales

  7. Ah wow good for her that she went back on the balance beam. Sorry to hear about the bike fall though. Although I am with you on this one. My MIL thinks I am too lax as in her eyes everything is dangerous and I don’t think she’d let my two do anything without her next to them whereas I very much let three get on with it. Not in a neglectful way, of course, but like you say when I was younger I did all sort but as ok and I wonder if I didn’t let them try things what that might be teaching. Oh sorry got a bit carried away. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun

    1. no reason to be sorry. I agree with you. I think it’s important to teach them not to be afraid, even if sometimes they take some lumps for it. Thats kid of what life is about, right?

  8. I think there is a fine line. As I’m sure all parents feel, I would wrap my little man up in cotton wool if I could but I know that is not the way to raise a child if I want him to develop some awareness of the world. After all, is said and done we want to protect them as best we can, and sometimes that means not being so protective – if that makes sense?! Thank you for linking up to #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again on Tuesday 🙂

  9. Ben has just started to take a few steps so of course there are several falls to boot. Hubby is very much a bubble wrap kind of response to his falling whereas i’m a pick up and plonk in front of a toy for distraction purposes.
    I want Ben to know we’re there to pick them up, but a slight bump isnt the end of the world, but when a big fall happens I know i’ll be there pushing everyone away to be the one to wipe his tears first!
    It is lovely to hear the fall hasnt put her off completely, thank you for sharing the update with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back tomorrow.

    1. I think it helps some that I work in a hospital. Its of course totally different when its your kid, but every parents story seems to start with “I was right there!” Helps to give relieve some of the guilt when she actually gets hurt

  10. With the first I was way more concerned about every little bump and bruise.

    By the time the twins rolled around they were climbing the playground rock wall at two years old.


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