I was out for a run in our new neighborhood and saw a pond that was frozen over. It appeared it had been skated on and I was excited by the possibility of having a recreational ice skating park so close to the house that the kids could go to. I shared this discovery with my daughter when she came home from school before I had the chance to weigh out the possible dangers:
1. How could I know if it was safe to skate on?
2. What are safety precautions one should take when skating on an open pond?
Naturally, she wanted to go out right away and check it out. I was making dinner and understanding that this was a great opportunity to offer her a moment of independence and exploration, I encouraged her to go and warned her not to go on the ice until I had a chance to go with her. She ran off before I could regale her with all the horrible things that could happen to her should she ignore my order to stay off the ice.
Minutes later she called me to let me know she could see two boys playing on the ice in their sneakers and it looked frozen. Could she, she asked, please go test it out? No. She absolutely could not. But, I did suggest she ask the boys if they had been out there a few times and if it was solid enough to skate on.
I soon noticed that it was getting dark out and texted her to come home. No reply. I texted, “Are you coming home?” No reply. I called her. No response. I panicked! Thoughts I cannot put in print went through my head – fear that something had gone amiss. I was angry at myself that I had let her go out and hadn’t prepared her more or sent her with her brother for this first exploration of our neighborhood. I didn’t even take a moment to grab my coat, but ran to the door. No sooner did I get to it, then it opened and in she came with flushed cheeks and a huge smile.
“Why didn’t you respond to my text? You didn’t pick up!” I said while I held her tight. She replied that she was just out and didn’t hear it ring. She was super excited to try skating.
At first I let my panic take over and chided myself for setting her up for what I had made up in my head to be a bad situation. But then I realized it wasn’t a bad situation at all, and in fact it allowed me to practice what I preach and encouraged independence. It reminded me that I need to allow the independence and not hover too much. Maybe there were ways I could have made it safer, or at least made myself more comfortable. For example, I could have given her a specific time to be home by. It also provided a chance for me to debrief with her what I had been so nervous about so we could talk about some of the “what-ifs” for next time.