This morning our two youngest boys were playing together. Mr Owl, who is seven, was pushing Mr Butterfly, who is two, on the swing. Then he began to twist the swing ropes and Mr B laughed his head off as he spun around and around.
They played this way for around 15-20 minutes: both laughing; both making great eye-contact with each other (I peeked, OK!); both of their bodies full of the joys of play.
I went to check facebook, as you do, and there was a scream of pain. Mr B had hit his head on the side of the frame. The swinging and twisting combination had been just a little too enthusiastic on Mr O’s part.
I walked outside calmly, removed Mr B from the swing and gave him a Boring Cuddle. Soon he stopped crying and we came inside for a snack.
No-one had done anything wrong. Mr O hadn’t intentionally hurt his smaller brother. He had just gotten so involved in the game that his enthusiasm had taken control of his body and brain, and he had misjudged distances.
We introduced the phrase, “Good game, gone bad,” a while ago. It describes this sort of situation perfectly. Everyone is having fun; someone gets carried away; someone gets hurt; the game stops.
The learning and emotional connection both boys gained from the experience far outweighed the pain Mr B had to deal with. Pain is not bad. Learning to manage pain is good. Preventing our children from doing things, perhaps getting something wrong and then learning from their mistakes, is a disaster. (Like this situation, sheeesh : http://grist.org/list/high-school-seniors-suspended-for-biking-to-school/)
One of my favourite New Zealanders, Celia Lashlie, puts it perfectly:
Do you want your child’s first decision to be to accelerate or brake at an amber light?