A friend of mine told me that Ashton Kucher, in an interview, said something to the effect that for the first year of parenting you are trying to keep them alive and for the second, you are trying to prevent them from actively killing themselves. Babies are fearless. The world, to them, is packed full of exciting things to discover and adventures to go on. They are eager just to get out there and explore. They have not yet learned the hard way, that there is danger out there, and that they can and will get hurt.

As your little adventurer finds their feet, you find the courage to let them have a little bit of freedom. Of course, you do your best to make sure that you are there to catch them if they fall, but sometimes you aren’t fast enough. There will be knocks, cuts and bruises, you wipe away their tears and they rush off to do it all again. They learn, slowly, to fall better, to reach out to catch themselves to land on the soft parts, like bottoms, instead of heads. They learn to be more cautious, at least a little bit.

Of course, not all injury is physical.

Last Thursday my mother-in-law and I took Kitty to the ‘beach’ at Frosts Garden Centre. It’s basically a giant sand pit with adjoining crazy golf, a peddle car circuit and a beach cafe to buy refreshments. After a few minutes acquainting herself with the new and strange sensation of sand, Kitty found other things to be interested in: children.

Kitty is a very sociable little soul. Left to her own devices, she would spend all our shopping trips wandering around waving and smiling at people. For the most part people are very kind, not always though. On thursday, I watched as Kitty went to the assortment of buckets, spades and rakes are that were piled up in the sand pit, selected three and wandered over to a couple of older girls playing. She stood there patiently for several moments waiting for them to notice that she had brought them some buckets to play with. My little girl was trying to make friends. The older girls were far too busy for my little bubba girl.

Kitty wandered off then to the peddle car circuit. She walked awkwardly between the cars, getting in the way. She didn’t want to sit in the cars, she just wanted to be a part of the action. Eventually she tried to give a little boy one of the giant dominoes that she had found on the floor. His mother encouraged him to accept it and say thank you. A little achievement for my little one.

I ache when I think about Kitty trying so hard to make friends. Her open heart just reaching out to make connections. Socialising has always been a bit of a rough area for me. I always loved people but I lacked for the skills and the charm to find it easy to make friends. I was the weird kid in school. As a youngster, it didn’t bother me, I just kept rushing in, but time and tide makes you cautious. As a mother I want to shield her from the pain of rejection but I know I can’t hide her from all the joy that comes with making real connections with real friends and she is so very ready to get out into the world and start to build those kinds of relationships.

While I watch my sweetheart, so proud of how kind and brave and generous she appears to be, so hopeful that she will have the best, most wonderful and fulfilling life that she can possibly have, I have to let go of some of my fears. I have to let her find her way, knowing that sometimes my place is not to prevent the injury but to dry the tears afterwards. That is very, very hard.

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