So, part of having a healthy relationship with our bodies is moving them. Kids often do this more spontaneously than adults. I marvel at the energy level, the sheer joy many children have as they run, or dance. Even my relatively sedentary child (compared to some of the little guys I know!) has such a clear joyful abandon when she’s moving.
So, on a recent day off school, I took M and a friend to the Como zoo (a local zoo that is donation-entry) to burn off some steam. It was a beautiful fall day and the zoo was almost empty. I wanted to give them the opportunity to run and play. (Just as with food, there is a Division of Responsibility with activity. I provide the opportunity for M to move her body in joyous and unpressured ways and she takes it or leaves it…)
Anyway, so they are running from one thing to the next. As I said, there are very few people there. I asked them not to run if there were others around, but otherwise was thrilled that they were having fun and getting exercise.
Then an employee shouts at them to “walk! No running!” There was literally no one around. I said kindly, “May I ask what your concern is?” She looked at me like I was crazy. “Well, they can get hurt! We had a kid split his lip here before!”
Really!? I didn’t quite know what to say. “OK, well thanks, yes, kids do get hurt I suppose!” I wandered off and let them run at will. A child can split a lip falling from a walk as well. It seemed odd. I could understand if they were running into people, or if it was crowded. I wanted to say, “I am willing to accept that risk,” or, “Are you kidding me? Of course some kids will get hurt. That is unavoidable.” (Will we soon be signing liability waivers at public places?)
What does this mean? Will we outlaw running, climbing etc because of liability concerns? Already, the playgrounds of our youth with merry-go-rounds are gone. The high-dive at the swim-club is long gone and climbing structures barely get off the ground. (In contrast, in France, where they have 10% of the lawyers we have here, the playgrounds I have seen look like something out of Fear Factor…)
I felt bad encouraging my child to ignore an adult authority figure- but come on.
What do you think? Do you think our caution, our fear of injury is making it harder for kids to find enjoyable ways to be active? Have you had similar experiences?