Alert the media people. The Shaps like to take risks. We take huge chances, like real dare devilish moves, we like to live on the edge. Ready for this? We keep the SCISSORS in the junk drawer✂️…next to the scotch tape, and pens and pencils and notepads.✏️🖊🖍🖇✂️📝 OMG! Are you cringing! Are you ready to call CPS yet?📞 In fact many people were agasp when they found out our scissors are…get this…readily accessible to the kids. We even have a pile of 10+ inches of brown hair (half curly and half straight) to show for our risky parenting decision.
You see, Hailey decided a few days after her 4th birthday that she wanted straight hair like her friend Jenna, so she gathered her tools (scissors, a brush and detangler) and got to work. She clipped off several banana curls and I was besides myself. It ruined her signature look!💇🏽 💇🏽 💇🏽 This was a few days before…
And this is how I found her in her bedroom…💇🏽 ✂️
Dylan on the other hand, woke me out of a deep sleep at 6am😴 to show me her masterpiece. I shot out of bed, with such intensity, such horror, such devastation, that little whispering voice “mommy I cut my hair” will never ever escape me. Ever. I was a wreck over it.😭😳😫 She did a real Edward Scissorhands job on herself. It was NOT SALVAGEABLE and it was a few days BEFORE her 4th birthday, and I was pregnant and very hormonal! This was a few days before Hairgate 2.0 happened…✂️💇🏽
And this is how I woke up to my precious almost 4 year old…like a God Damn disaster of a monster child! (yes those are labeled shelves…we can save that for another blog post because I know inquiring minds would like to know lol)
I flew down the stairs in a hysterical rage demanding to see her work.
You see the mullet? Thank God for those 3 long strands of hair because I was able to pretend she still had long hair in pigtails. Thats right people I kept a purposeful mullet! This picture was taken by Craig the morning of Hairgate 2.0…
Anyway to make a long story even longer, I still did not move the scissors. Was it a dumb stubborn decision? Maybe. But I felt like scissors belong in the junk drawer and my kids will need to learn how to live in the real world, and the real world means there are scissors around. ✂️🌎Thankfully since Hailey’s hair was curly, she just wore it pulled back and the chopped curls blended with the rest. Dylan, well…lets just say she sported a Dorothy Hamill for several months…and by the way to this day it STILL hasn’t fully grown back (almost 4 years later? What’s that about?) Guess what…we all survived and lived to tell the story…
I even had a good laugh, when all I wanted to do was have a good cry…
I’m using this silly but funny example of risk taking because it was the first thing that came to my head when I started reading my new favorite book by Heather Shumaker called It’s Ok To Go Up the Slide. I am putting her parts in italics and bold, and my thoughts in regular print.
The very first section is titled Risk and Independence and I was already hooked. In this helicopter parenting world, I think we need a little reality check. I wanted to share some of the highlights from this chapter that I think are very useful parenting advice.
Kids have always needed more risk than doting parents are comfortable with. Risk gives children critical skills, including risk assessment, dexterity, resilience, and social savvy.
Life is about change, challenge, risk, and growth. We can’t be alive without risk. Our children can’t be fully alive—and learn what they need to learn as growing humans—without the benefits of risk. Encountering risk gives children their chance to claim the world—to be who they are, in the world they find.
When children use their bodies and test their own limits they gain body awareness and a sense of those limits. They also gain dexterity, balance, and strength. Giving children a chance to take risks puts them in a position as partners in their own safety.”
A perfect example of this happened when I was in DC last week, Dylan wanted to scooter along the higher curb. It was about 8 inches off the ground. My initial instinct was to shout out “Dylan stop! Don’t do that your going to scoot right off of it and get hurt” But I decided to bite my tongue as hard as it was and see what happened. Well she scootered along the “balance bean”. She could have scootered right onto the grass to the left and fallen or scootered off the ledge 8 inches to the right onto the pavement. She happily scootered for 10 feet and then resumed back on level ground and that was that. She was able to test her balance, learn from the situation and succeed. It was an interesting moment!
“Risk is not just physical. Children need to take social and emotional risks, too. This includes getting their feelings hurt, being told no, feeling left out sometimes, and experiencing anger, frustration, jealousy, and sorrow. Social rejection gives kids practice for developing resiliency.
Walking up the slide is just one way children show us their need for risk.”
Coincidentally just YESTERDAY Skyler put this scenario into play…Instead of instinctively pulling him off I let it go. Really why can’t you go up a slide? If no one is waiting and you are being mindful and respectful of the other children what is so bad?
Renegade Golden Rule: It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property.
I thought about this rule for awhile. I liked it. I am HUGE on manners and always trying to take the high road in life with myself and my kids. So if you think I am about to abandon all rules and let my kids run wild with no one to answer to then your missing my point. I was intrigued and I kept reading and then I found her long list of “rewards of risk”…
REWARDS OF HEALTHY RISK
Risk helps kids . . . Strive and challenge themselves
Try new things
Try something slightly beyond their comfort level
Practice failing and recovering
Decrease urge for inappropriate risk with chance for appropriate risk
Experience and cope with difficult emotions (fear, embarrassment, frustration, sadness)
Manage fear Overcome fear
Gauge speed, distance, and slippery conditions
Learn how to fall
Develop increased body awareness, dexterity, and skill
Cultivate flexible thinking
Make new friends
Think up new ideas
Gain practice reading others’ emotions and reactions
Deal with setbacks
Take reasonable chances
Gain pride in newfound abilities
Begin to understand who they are
Develop responsibility for their own safety
Reduce power struggles
Discover joy in independence
How amazing is this list???….I never really thought about this topic. Instead of hovering over my children, oftentimes making them feel like they have to live in a safety bubble, I was inspired to give them the freedom to grow and learn for themselves… Shumaker went on to scribe the 4 kinds of risks.
“Physical risks-Physical risk for kids is about trying things with their bodies: running fast (and too fast), climbing high, using sharp tools, pouring and spilling, wrestling, crossing streets, riding bikes, balancing on walls. It also involves experimenting with their bodies in nature. The risk involved is not always bruises and bumps; sometimes it’s mess.
Creative risk– Creative risk is fundamentally about freedom to play. Play is the most creative expression of ideas for children. It may get messy. It may seem silly. It may not even seem risky to adults, but children explore ideas, make mistakes, and constantly challenge themselves through play.
Social risk– The better kids get at practicing risk, the better they will be at trying new relationships and gaining resiliency for temporary setbacks. For some kids, social risk is saying hello, talking to adults, or asking a question.
Emotional risk-When we protect them from emotional risk—the possibility of feeling sad, scared, embarrassed, angry, or any other negative emotion—then we deprive them of the chance to practice dealing with these difficult emotions and recover from them
I could not summarize this topic any better then the way Shumaker describes risk taking below. I hope this inspires you as much as it taught me. Two weeks ago I actually put her theory into play without having read the book. When Hailey was baking her pizza she insisted on taking it out of the oven and she insisted on boiling the pasta. I was in a rush and impatient. Then it clicked and I thought maybe I should take this opportunity to teach her safety in the kitchen. How to use oven mitts, how to not put your face over steaming water when your pour your pasta into a colander. Not that I endorse her to cook Aline but now she has the tools on how to safely do it. She felt so proud of herself and I wonder if Shumaker would applaud me? I’ve opened my eyes to risk taking and I really see the benefits. Instead of automatically saying NO just because that’s what I am used to I am going to take a moment to think is NO really a good reason?
No child likes to be hurt. The result: He’s extra careful. With so many safety messages, kids can get the idea that they can’t get hurt. Adults will always protect them. Rules will always protect them. Engineered surfaces, helmets, and playgrounds will always protect them. There’s no need for caution. A child who feels no fear of his environment has no need to be careful. It’s assumed everything’s under control...Children need ample room to explore so they can discover themselves and live the life they were born to live. So Ask yourself: What’s the risk here? If the risk is mess, tears, bumps, or conflict, it’s appropriate risk. If the risk is likely and involves serious harm, it’s inappropriate risk. When assessing the likelihood, always modify for age. It’s liberating to live with more joy and less fear.”
I have always had a somewhat hands off approach with my kids, like I mentioned before I am laid-back and adventurous on a lot of parenting topics. But now moving forward I am going to try out and remember some of the rewards of risk taking even when my initial thought is to curb the risky behavior. Here are some examples of “risky” things I’ve done with my kids over the year that most parents I know would scoff at…
There was the time on the mopeds on Block Island. Wind blowing our hair, salty mist on our face, I will never forget that feeling of excitement met with anxiousness and initial guilt. After all I was taking my 7 year old on a moped. Helmets on, we set off at a very cautious yet fun speed to explore the whole island…
There was the time we were jumping off the lifeguard stand and leaping over huge puddles at Tobay Beach. (This is a half of a second before I lost my balance did a forward roll and landed in the puddle and had to spend the rest of the windy day cold and wet🤔 with a hurt back. However I learned next to time to better balance and land on 2 feet. )
There was the time I let Dylan, age 4, zipline in Dominican Republic. Not only did she zipline but she lead the group down each zipline. The highlight was when I found her sitting at the bar, and had ordered her 1st coke!
There was our favorite activity last summer, netting for dirty frogs in the fountain. I guarantee you, they tell you it was their favorite memory of the Hamptons and most of you are rolling your eyes right now thinking we are disgusting.
There was the time we made a cave out of overgrown bushes…even gasp, took the chance of getting poison ivy or covered with bugs! 😜🐜🐛🌿
Then there’s my person all time favorite, the time Craig and I took 4 year old Hailey and 2 year old Dylan (pacifier and diapers and all) up the mountain in Santorini on a donkey! THERE WAS NO OTHER WAY PEOPLE! It was 95 degrees out and we needed to get to the top asap!
I like to spark the excitement, creativity and adventure side in my kids. We like to live on the edge, have fun, make memories, take chances, cry, get mad, laugh and bond with each other! Will it always work? Maybe not. Is it always super appropriate? Probably not. Will I always make the best decisions? Definitely not. But what I DO know, is that parenting is about trial and error, being flexible, having an open mind, listening to other’s peoples advice and then making the BEST decision you can make with the tools you have at that time. Then not being afraid to try something new next time if it doesn’t work. Too many times have I seen parents passing off their fears to their kids, stopping their kids from doing things for no reason. Stifling their natural curiosities as a child. This is one thing I will never understand. Let your kids decide for themselves what they love and what they fear… within reason…I get it. Give them the opportunities to learn what risk taking is all about…
I kid you NOT…As I was ending my last paragraph I heard a little grunt and I walked out of my office to find the following scene…
What was that about taking risk? SHOOT…NOW WHAT DO I DO?????😳😳😫