A few weeks ago I was sitting in the van with two sleeping girls, waiting for my husband to return from the post office. Along the street came a young boy on a bicycle with something in his hand. I watched as he juggled the item from one hand to the other, trying not to lose his balance, and as he did so came within inches of hitting a wall.

I thought about how often I’ve held my breath, waiting to see whether my own children would fall or recover. How many times will I do that? There is something in me that yearns to protect them from everything, which would do them great harm. Every day I try to find the balance between keeping them safe and giving them freedom to grow and explore.

Sheila over at to Love, Honour and Vacuum [what a great title!] touched on this in a blog post last week. She speaks of expecting kids to climb, not fall, and equipping them with rope and harness. It was good food for thought. Especially the part about keeping home as a safe haven, where children are expected to do what is right, allowing them to call on that authority when they’re in pressured situations.

I had hoped that wouldn’t apply to our family for a while, as Bella isn’t yet four. But even at this tender age she sees the differences between other families and her own, and she needs consistent messages to feel secure.

If the boy on the bike hadn’t caught himself in time someone would have helped him up and seen him home. As it is, he attempted the balancing act and learned that he could do it. Days later I watched my still three year old look at a challenging section of the climbing frame, decide to climb, and proclaim triumphantly to herself, ‘I did it!’ when she reached the top.

God grant me the wisdom to hold back enough to let her learn all the great things she will do.