Can we walk the line of unleashing our child’s inner Warrior and set limits?
I recently had a play date with a mother of two. With her newborn on her hip she recounted how different her kids were. How this new baby is rewriting the parent handbook she just finished mastering with her firstborn. Though she was in a familiar place with new challenges, I admired her for setting her life up so she could be fully present. As a young woman she has worked relentlessly to build a successful career and with the same fortitude, she is constructing a purpose filled life raising her children.
After they left, I began to reminisce. When I was a young mom, was my guidebook the same as it is now? I dove into my journal and found this post on letting our kids discover their own limits while keeping them from killing themselves. May you walk the fuzzy line that keeps your heart pounding and still keep your spirit on Earth! Enjoy 🙂
As a “High Spirited” kid, Luke is always willing to take on a battle. Today was no different, yet it was terrifyingly magical.
Luke and Jax are learning to respect animals and the sacrifice they make by providing us food. They’re beginning to understand the cycle of life and the practice of self-reliance. Growing food in the garden, harvesting and canning fruit, learning to fish are all part of life in our family. Learning to hunt is on the horizon.
It’s as if they look out their car window, assessing their food options based on the wildlife we pass. The boys have shrieked for me to pull over when they spot a flock of wild turkeys so they can, “catch ‘em and eat ‘em for dinner.”
This particular morning was luxurious and lazy. Full of eggs, tea and toast; I saw the sun beaconing us to come out and enjoy his splendor. I hustled the boys and Ziva outside. All 3 sporting their pajamas, perfect attire for a morning walk down Kensington Court.
The boys grabbed their scooters and blazed down the street. My morning zen began to unravel as I attempted to call them back. 16 month old Ziva, engulfed, was lagging behind. She inspected every leaf and acorn. Investigating the world that lives within the division between tar and earth.
It’s too quiet, I thought. I could feel the hair on my neck electrify and lift off my skin. I begin my “mother-safety scan” and start to count kids. Ziva, check. Jax, check. Luke….ugh…. LUKE!
I spot him at the end of the court, laser-focused on the two young deer grazing on our neighbor’s cashmere pink hydrangeas. With the stealth of a lion, Luke lowered his scooter to the ground. Confused, I watched as he crept toward the unaware mammals.
Lost, I turned to my middle child, “What in the world is your brother up too, Jax?” My three year old, who is mentally 93, looked at me and shook his head. Throwing his hands up in the air, he gestured, “how the heck should I know?!”
In a burst of movement, Luke exploded forward, breaking into a full frontal attack. Sprinting toward the preoccupied deer, his hands stretched out in front, deadly weapons. His plan? Take them down at the neck and choke them out.
Oh, did I mention he was screaming? Yeah, like an extra in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart who wanted to make every moment of his 3 seconds on film, count.
So here we were, Ziva straddled on my hip with a fist full of leaves and Jax holding both my hand and his scooter. Our mouths dropped to the floor as we watched our warrior, literally, running down what he expects to be tonight’s dinner.
At first I laugh and shout, “Hey buddy, deer are pretty fast runners, I don’t think you’ll catch them.” Silly mommy- what do you know about running down deer? Apparently nothing.
Ignoring my comment, Luke kept after them and ran the startled deer into a corner. Our neighbors fence blocked any chance of escape. The only way out for the two deer? Through my 6 year old son.
In his eyes, he saw an opportunity and he was ready to take it on. With every ounce of his being, he believed he could not only take down one deer, but two at the same time. Looking into those quivering Doe eyes, I could see the animals believed it too… and they were scared silly- at this point so was I.
The color drained from my face as I yelled, “They will fight you and hurt you to get away. They will not willingly be dinner, Luke. Back Off!”
Deaf ears; he was in the “hunter’s zone,” something my husband, hasn’t felt in a long, long time (sorry sweet-cakes;).
Luke crouched lower. His fingers splayed out, channeling his inner X-men Wolverine. The sun beat against his now perspiring brow, his lips curled back, exposing his unbrushed and fierce 6 year old teeth.
Each step was full of intention, “I am going to eat you deer,” was the menacing whisper I heard muffled in each step he took.
“LUCIUS ALEXANDER! STOP! You are trying to send their energy back to the Universe and they are going to fight back and hurt you or send YOUR energy back to the Universe! Don’t move an inch closer!” The words flew out of my mouth and echoed off the hillside. Yeah, that SO didn’t work.
In his mind, Luke KNEW he could catch them. I could see that his purpose in that moment was to take down those deer and I was internally Freaking OUT… Do I run up and try to grab him? He is 10 yards away… what about my baby girl? Do I set her down … what if the deer come this way and trample her, what if she falls off the road and into the creek? Could I trust my 3 year old to hold onto her? Seriously?! Is this really happening?!
I thought to myself, “Okay, God, a little guidance would be AWESOME right now.” Boom! Like a power surge, the words… “protocol” flashed in front of me. I had to appeal to the Vulcan logic that ran deep in my first born.
I tried again, “LUKE!” I hissed. Do you have a permit?!” Suddenly, my deadly hunter slowed but was unwilling to break posture still crouched, menacingly in “attack” mode. Luke’s gaze still locked on his targets, he snarled back, “What?! Mom, what are you talking about? What’s a permit?”
In rapid fire, I explained that when Daddy goes hunting, he has to register for a permit… “It is like asking the hunting department for permission. Do you have one?” Luke broke his focus on the petrified animals and turned to face me, dropping his tense, claw shaped hands to his sides, “One, what now?”
“Something that shows it is okay to hunt these deer. You have to have permission- a permit- or you can’t hunt these deer.” I warned. Ziva squeaked and tried to wriggle out of my too tight grip. I’d clenched her waist so tight to mine, I was hurting her and yet I couldn’t allow myself to loosen up.
“I don’t have one of those,” he sighed, “..I have a library card, does that count?”
“… No, son, it doesn’t. You can only check out books with that, not animals.”
Click. Click. Click; I could see his brain running the program…. “Daddy needs a permit to hunt, I need a permit to hunt. Got it.”
I watch the warrior in him dissolve and slip into the sunshine. Luke shrugged at the deer and backed away, allowing just enough space for them to bound off into the canyon.
I finally released my grip on Jax’s hand and Ziva’s waist, frantically rubbing my fingernail indents on Jaxie’s poor hand with my thumb.
A long, slow breath escaped from my chest as I watched my 3 children squeal and chase each other down the street, as if the moment before never happened.
I learned a lot from Luke that morning. At one point in our young lives, we all believed in ourselves. To the core. True and complete belief in our capabilities. Hunting deer with our bare hands, creating a tempura painted masterpiece; as kids, we didn’t let fear or doubt anywhere near our driver’s seat.
And I also understood to use “protocol” with caution. My kids will, eventually, believe that the limits I put upon them are real. In this instance, well used. But, I must be aware of abusing those limits in the name of gratuitous angst or personal comfort. I must guide enough to keep them from killing themselves AND let them determine their own limits. A heavy responsibility, but what an honor it has been so far.
May you remember that you are capable of most anything and use limits sparingly. Here’s to unleashing your inner warrior!
Laugh hard. Love strong. Live to serve.