Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fearless?

Just yesterday, we received yet another "he is fearless!" comment about Lukas. This comment is being heard around here almost as much as "Don't I know you from somewhere?" Yes, our boy is fun-loving, happy, full of energy, engaged. But fearless? After stopping to think we do have to admit there isn't much at this point in Luke's young life that scares him. Our boy approachs strangers with a smile and arms wide open. He dives right into a new environment without the least bit of hesitation. He climbs on play structures at local parks like a young monkey learning his native environs. Thankfully, he has learned to turn and climb down backwards most of the time. He does all these things with such energy and sense of thrill that it inspires the comment mentioned above. "He is fearless!"

Hopefully, his fearlessness reflects well on how Mrs. LIAYF and I have raised Lukas to this point. I do wonder, though, how much of his gusto relates to his nature and how much of it is attributed to our nurture of him. Sure we have provided a safe environment for him at home. And, like most parents, we have encouraged him to explore the new and interesting world around him, with us at his side to help him when he falls. Perhaps most little ones go through an energetic, fearless stage. Yet we see plenty of other toddlers his age who seem content to stay close to mom and dad. In contrast, when we put Lukas down in a store he often makes a bee-line to the nearest exit, not stopping to look back for assurances. We follow him to see how far he will go, but always end up grabbing him before he walks out the door. He is always moving as soon as we set him down.
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Frankly that scares me a bit. I do not want to have that moment where I look away for a second in a crowed store, only to turn and discover that my child is missing. That is every parents' nightmare and I worry about it all the more with Luke's energy level. Mrs. LIAYF said that she was constantly wandering away as a child, so she and I do our best to help Lukas understand the dangers of wandering too far from us. However, he seems to have an inert curiosity and wanderlust, much like his mother had. A need to explore, to do and see. Yes, maybe even a fearlessness.
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Since Lukas is our first child, we wonder if this is a phase that he is going through. Or can we expect this to be Lukas' personality to remain this way as he grows older? Will he grow into the type of young adult who straps on a parachute and base jumps from El Capitan? Or will he end up like his old man? Not afraid to try new things, as long as they are relatively safe. We want to encourage Luke to seize the day, while still understanding that there are risks involved. We will continue to be there for him, picking him up after he falls when we can, while helping him understand exactly how high he has climbed and how far down it is. All the while, hopefully instilling the correct understanding of the dangers involved. Because we won't always be there.

For those of you will older kids, how much did their personality change from when they were a toddler? S hould we brace ourselves for more bumps and bruises than average over the next several years? Give it to me straight, because this dad certainly is not fearless!

9 comments:

SciFi Dad said...

Interestingly, just this week I did a piece about the exact opposite situation with our daughter. She's too clingy and afraid to be away from either of us.

I don't know what the future holds, but I've got to say, I'd rather a little more of what you've got than what we're going through... she won't even take a 30 minute library class alone.

TW said...

I think it is probably 50/50 the child's personality and how the parents are.

Two of ours are pretty fearless. Think it is really important not to wrap boys esp. in cotton wool (which as parents is our natural instinct) so they can learn about risks for themselves. If you are OTT I think you will end up with a very fearful and unconfident kid. Obviously we don't let our kids do anything life threatening haha. There is a fine balance.

Also think if you don't let kids explore the world around them and learn from their mistakes while you are around as a safety net then it is quite like will do stuff behind your back anyway when they don't have you to "save" and could get themselves in the shite.

LOL, think I am rambling and don't know if this is making sense.

morethananelectrician said...

It changed absolutely NONE for two of ours...the jury is still out on the 7 month old. I have one boy and one girl (9 and 4)!

Xbox4NappyRash said...

In my VAST experience, I'd like to think it's good to let them adventure and explore by themselves.

They will bust the occasional toe or nose or whatever but it's great experience.

...and of course, I'm an expert ;0)

DC Urban Dad said...

My sister has 3 boys. The first is very cautious and nervous. He plans things out with care and detail. He wants to know that he can do something before he does it.

My godson (the 2nd one) is hell on 2 legs and just jumps right in. He jumps into the deep-end of the pool without water wings, he runs head first into walls, he cannot be stopped. He is also fearless.

The third is a mixture of both. At times he is cautious and at others he just goes for it.

I am not sure what is right or what is wrong. But I get a sense that you are giving Lukas what he needs - a small dose of independence to feed his curiosity with the cushion of knowing that his parents have his back.

Seeing those pictures and knowing my godson I am glad that my little Mini-Kamp can only head butt me right now.

Sorry not much help ;)

Ed (zoesdad) said...

One of my biggest fears as a parent is that my children will realize that the world outside of our doors and our yard is not as safe as we have made it for them inside. Right now all of my kids are happy, warm, open and fearless because they have no reason to be afraid.

For all of our sakes I hope that they never have a reason.

Rob said...

Lukas sounds similar to Cooper in a lot of ways. As soon as we set him down anywhere, he's off running. He also opens up to new settings and people quickly, after some initial assessment.

Though he does take off running when we set him down, he seems to have a range at which he stops and looks back at us. At that point, he's content to come back when we call his name.

I really like this trait, but I respect and empathize with your concerns about his disappearing. I assume it is typical anxiety that parents face, especially we first-timers. My hope was that Cooper would be much more outgoing and fearless than I ever was as a child. So far, my wife and I are thrilled with his gregarious and adventurous personality.

A little anxiety is a good thing, and helps make us better parents. Enjoy and encourage Lukas' fearlessness and extroversion. As long as your anxiety doesn't turn into a phobia, you all will be fine.

I like the "carpe diem" approach you mention. Everyone should know about the risks of any activity before they dive in head first. You guys have the right idea, and Lukas will grow up to be a great person.

Loved this post!

James Austin said...

@Scifi - I am sure that will pass. A happy medium would be desireable.

@TW - You make perfec sense! I do think we have a good balance so far. I just hope we keep it that way.

@MTAE - Interesting Observation. I will have to see how it plays out with Lukas.

@Xbox - You are right on. Kids need to learn thier own physical boundaries and not just what is forced on them. must be all that experience!

@DC - Thanks. Glad to hear others think we are going about it correctly too. Lukas is not ramming himself into walls, thankfully but he does go full bore at times. Mini-Kamp will be giving you more than head butts soon enough. It is great to see them develop.

@Ed - Amen to that! It is a mess out there.

@Rob - Thanks for the great comment. They do sound a lot alike. It will be fun to see how that holds up over time. No phobia's yet. I tend to pick him up, dust him off and get him back at it when he falls and hurts himself.

Darren said...

I say brace yourselves. Clare has always been fearless too. I'd love to sometime let her get lost so she'd learn not to try to take off on her own, but I'm too afraid to let that happen.