Monday, September 14, 2009

tree climbing - both physically and metaphorically

Bedtime took a long time tonite - which means I had lots of time to lay there and ponder things like - well - climbing trees ;)

It started with just a general feeling of how climbing trees is such an important part of childhood ...and then well my brain got away with me ;) .......

I got to thinking of each of my kids in relation to tree climbing - I did tell you that bed time took a long time tonite right? This could take a while ;)

I think that a huge part of parenting - for me anyway, but I think it's pretty universal - is a process over the years, months, days, minutes even - of letting go. A little bit at a time.

My 3 year old daughter recently climbed up to the treehouse for the first time. When one of her brothers told me what she was doing, I felt my breath escape me for a moment - just a wee moment really, as I looked over to see how she was doing. Now since she's my 4th child to climb up high for the first time it didn't take long for that initial escape of breath to turn to mama pride :) Another sign that she's moved further from baby, toddler, to little girl. I knew how proud she must be sitting up there and I just let her have that moment to herself.

Thankfully the baby/toddler isn't climbing the trees - yet ;) but I'm guessing it won't be long.

I thought about my almost 9 year old boy and how lately he's pretty much obsessed with moving the trampoline under the tree and then jumping into these heart-stopping flips where I'm quite certain that he's going to break his neck! Again - some more letting go. I have to admit that I'm not there yet - in fact I moved the trampoline back away from the tree ;) But even while writing this post I'm realizing that right now, even tho it pushes my comfort levels ( tho not too too much) I think that perhaps that is exactly what *he* needs to be doing. He's challenging himself, making himself feel alive and *proud of himself*. My boy has been going thru a hard time - I think it's an age thing, but whatever it is he mopes. He rarely feels satisfied, and he's often bored. He's on the edge of a pretty major developmental leap and I think it's just hard all around. And so he's found this thing that feels good and right (obviously or he wouldn't keep on moving that trampoline right back to the tree ;) ) So here *I* am - once again - needing to re-evaluate things. To push *myself* as a parent, to let go a little more. To let him make his way in this world. It's such a juggling act it is - holding the space for him to be a kid and feel both safe and supported,(something that doesn't happen so often these days in our world where most kids end up pushed out of childhood much too soon) but also to give him the space - as he's ready - to grow into himself. To push his limits and pretty much just figure out this body he's in and this world he lives in. That's huge.

Look at that - they were all 3 in the tree at once!
(actually you can only se 2, but the 3rd was lower down ;) )

Moving on tho - Mr.S - my 7 year old was also in my thoughts. He has struggled with something called Sensory Processing Disorder. In short that means that all of the sensory input coming in gets into a bit of a traffic jam. This made life quite stressful for him. One issue was Auditory defensiveness. Too much noise caused his system to become disorganized. For calming, the Occupational Therapist requested that we offer him lots and lots of ways to move his body in a way that would compress his joints. This causes the release of a substance in his body that physically calms and balances him. One of those activities was ..... you guessed it ;) climbing trees ;) He already did that all the time, and now we knew why. No way was I stopping him now! He was balancing his whole sensory system by doing so! That boy climbed a lot of trees when the SPD was at it's worst. After many therapies that we sought out, he now is much more balanced on a day to day basis without too much special attention to sensory input, but I'll never forget the time he spent up there - as high as he could get, singing every single Beatles song he knew :)

I have to say too that my boy is the best climber in the family. All that climbing has given him such a strong sense of his body, and how it works and I think also - and this is really key - a sense of what feels safe and what doesn't. His own internal alarm that tells him enough is enough and it's time to stop. I think that alarm bell carries over into the rest of a child's life in so many ways. They learn to trust *themself*.

Last , but definitely not least, we have my oldest daughter who today showed me that yes - she still likes to climb trees :) When she was a little girl she loved hugging tress so much that she's even insist on stopping to hug the telephone poles!
I have to say that currently - learning to let go of this girl is a pretty major learning curve for this mama. And of course they don't come with a manual - that's such a shame isn't it? I have to say tho, that I'm learning so much being her mama. She's made me! Really - at 10 years old she informed me in all seriousness that she was *not* a child anymore. She was a teenager. I was somewhat taken aback - so what's that - ten-teen? And then at 14 well now she's an adult. According to her. And to be honest I do remember feeling at 14 that I was not a kid, and maybe I was technically still a teen, but I certainly didn't feel like one anymore. And so here she sits in this precarious position of being a teen, but feeling like an adult. She's extremely mature, and very very smart. And so I let go. One. Thing. at a time.

It's hard this letting go. In many ways I fooled myself into thinking that she wasn't nearly so close to being all growed up as she is. It snuck up on me while I was busy in baby land. So here she is growing in leaps and bounds - much faster than I can keep up with - "what? you're skipping a grade in English and you're planning to graduate a year early????Huh? That's how many years more until you go away to school??????

Whoa Nelly.

And yet it's as it should be. I hold on until it's time to let go. I make sure to be there waiting, ready to catch her if she falls - just like when she was learning to walk, and climb. Knowing full well that I won't always be able to catch her, but trying just the same.

And it feels right. It feels like there is a balance - however precarious it is to maintain. And of course she's always there reminding me if it's time to let go of something and I haven't quite noticed yet - ahem ;)

So there you have it. I bet you never thought climbing trees could mean so much!

But it does. Letting go. Again, and again. Trusting. and letting go. And knowing when it's time to let go, and when it's time to hold on a little longer.

It's all about trees you see ;)


Sheesh - I was all done - and even posted this, and then a little one woke up, and of course I went in and laid down with her to help her back to sleep - giving me some more time to ponder all of this, and I had to come back.

You see it's not just about letting go. It's about finding the balance between holding on - holding that space for them - that mama- or papa - knowing that they aren't quite there, aren't quite ready.....

A balance between holding on, and letting go. A balance that can become a rhythm. A breathing in and breathing out so to speak.

Ok. I think I'm really done now.

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