Put children anywhere they can smell water and they will RUN stupidly towards it.
The other day, I brought all 3 of my kids to the city and met up with a girlfriend and her 2 kids.
We spent 6 hours doing cultured things like going to the museum, the art gallery, looking at stuff, eating in a please-sit-still cafe. So I was very surprised to discover a muddy pond in the middle of the Perth Cultural Centre – deliberately created by the city, called “Perth Wetlands”.
The kids played on the boardwalk surrounding the lake, collected stones and bits of wood, pretended to go fishing with reeds, stomped in the swampy beach bits, and they skipped around the edge of the water, hoping to “accidentally” fall in, as an excuse to have permission to wade in the water.
They were like pigs in mud. In their element.
All the while I was keeping a very close eye on my toddler, Liam. Being 2.5 years old, he was very keen to be with his older brothers, and do all the dangerous, dirty, reckless things they were doing.
I was trying to make sure he didn’t go too near to the edge of the boardwalk. But after some time, it was plainly obvious that I wasn’t making much difference. He really wanted to be there. The edge is, after all, something you have to be on… if you want to get to the water.
The water wasn’t very deep. Probably ankle high. Everyday, he sits in a bathtub full of water deeper than that. He’s a big boy now.
What the hell, let him fall in. After all, that is what happens if you live on the edge. At worst, he could fall in, bump his head, get soaked, stand-up by himself and fill the Perth Cultural Centre with an indignant, echoing howl.
And if he DID fall in? Well, of course, I would go in after him. But I would pause to take my shoes off first.
Am I a bad mother? Hell yeah!
My more relaxed attitude to his “safety” suddenly made me realise that he was developing so fast, and soon, I won’t need to follow him around, step by step.
I had a slow moment of sadness. A feeling that time was slipping through my fingers. My last baby was growing up faster than I could believe. I am near the end of me being the source and focus of this amazing guy’s life, and of him being the purpose of mine. I am near the end of the hormonal, emotional roller-coaster it has been to bring three humans into the world.
Sigh. I love my kids. And I love being a mother.
(However, I don’t particularly like finding out that one of my little darlings had filled my handbag with algae-covered sticks.)