Yesterday we were on a hike. We stopped at the hay “barn” on the way home. P loves to climb the bails. I’m glad no one was around. Most people would think I’m an awful parent for letting P climb all the way to the top but I feel the contrary. I even know D is suspect of my thinking. So, I’ll explain.
P is a climber. She was more dangerous when she could crawl but not walk because she would climb to get places. I would turn my back for a second and find her on the third tier of our bookcases. I never understood how fast children can move until I had one. I swear in a flash they could make it to the moon and back.
I can not guarantee that I’ll be at the right place, at the right time for every second of P’s life. Therefore, my philosophy is to make her aware of the dangers so she can think for herself when I’m not present. The hay bails are a perfect place to teach her the possible dangers while I’m there to guarantee her safety.
As P climbed I told her to look out for the gaps. Sometimes the bails are not placed right next to each other and there are gaps wide enough for her foot to get caught in. I took her foot and put it in a gap so she knew that if her foot did get caught she could get it out. But I wanted her to feel for herself the unpleasant feeling of being caught in the gap.
Next she got to the top. A great accomplishment but I told her that she couldn’t stay up there. I wasn’t sure how well balanced the whole thing was. I was already seeing bails half way off on the bottom tiers. When she came down I showed them to her and explained the danger of standing on something you’re not sure of. If it’s not well balanced then the whole thing could come down. On the flip side she shouldn’t stand under a loose looking bail.
I’ve been doing this kind of explaining to P since I can remember. I feel not letting kids feel the situation for themselves and even worse never talking about it with them only makes them more vulnerable. Kids by nature think everything is fun. Experience has not yet taught them otherwise. I feel explaining the possible dangers in a way that just makes them aware keeps them safe and enables them to solve problems. They have an exit strategy so to speak.
And what would I have done if she did fall off the hail bail? I was thinking that the whole time and watching very closely so I knew where to be to catch her. I had MY exit strategy.
So, that’s my explanation on why I’ll let my kid climb to the top of a hail bail.