Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Rope on the Bridge... Week 11

We have a wonderful bridge in our back yard that crosses a tidal mangrove tunnel leading down a "trail" to a saltwater bayou...it's quite beautiful.
You can see below that the "trail" is narrow...really, only room for one walker at a time.
I'm sure you can imagine my fear moving onto this property a few years back with a 2 year old and 5 year old, both of which were unable to swim.  
How would we make this work?  

Besides, never letting them step foot outside and/or putting up a 6 ft. fence to completely block the beauty of which we decided to move here in the first place...
We decided to go with, what I call, "The Farm Mentality".

My mother grew up in Rural Kentucky on what I would call a small Farm.  She would never say that, but the city (or at least suburban)  girl that I am...that's what I'm going to call it.
They had a few acres of land, a few apple trees, quite a garden, and yes Chickens.  Before, it was even cool to have chickens!!
My mother grew up with some rather strict Limits and Boundaries. Her mother and father were very clear with what the "rules" were.  And, also, what would happen if the rules were broken.  (This is the part I did not adopt... the culture of physically abusing my children ;)
But, the underlying idea was a system built on trust. And, if we can't trust you to follow our guidelines you lose certain freedoms and privileges. 
What I LOVE about this Farm Mindset is that children are raised to be environmentally aware, stewards of the land, and opportunities for healthy risk taking are abundant.  
There seems to be a deep respect for the child's natural inclination to be curious, to be an explorer, and to enjoy adventure.
But, with this respect of the land also comes a healthy fear and an understanding that a lapse in judgement could be forever costly. 
So, we had and continue to have, many firm talks with our children regarding the rules of our house.  And, I am very honest in the "why's".  Not, just because I say so, but "You could die if you fall into the water."

It's ironic because I think that many folks think that I am very relaxed and not such a rule follower.
But, I have found over the years with children, that the clearer you are with Limits and Boundaries, the more fun you can have with your kids.
I have high expectations for my kids...the majority of the time, they rise to the challenge.  But, on the occasion that they have a lapse in judgement and make the decision to not follow the rules...they have  begun to have a deep understanding and respect for not only the consequences from their mother and father...but also from mother earth.

Stingrays, sharp conch shells, live fish, tidal currents, the fear of the deep unknown...these are very real natural consequences for failing to respect some simple rules.
So, while most people come to Wonder Studio thinking there are no rules here...they quickly learn that there are quite a number of rules.  
Ms. Shannon is quite protective of the floors!  If it's wet, DRY IT! She doesn't like for me to make things slippery.

I am usually very clear with my expectations at Wonder Studio.  I try to give my reasoning but ultimately, I do expect the parents and caregivers to follow through with my expectations. 
Because, we can do so much more with children and have so much more fun once they know and understand the boundaries.

Look back at the first picture of the bridge over the Mangrove Tunnel.
You will see a Rope next to the bridge. 
It in no way offered any safety measure...it was only there as a visual boundary as you cross the bridge.

Recently, this rope fell away...I can't tell you how nervous we all felt in crossing the bridge without the rope there.  We laughed because we knew it really offered no safety but there was something reassuring about it being there.
That's what Rules, Limits, Boundaries, whatever you like to call them, offer your children (adults too ;)...
A guide...
A reminder to take care, to take responsibility...
A consequence for your lack in judgement is a real possibility. 
I really think that children need to grow up being held responsible for their choices and behavior.

Sometimes, those consequences are natural.
But, sometimes those consequences are made Logically by the ones who take Care of us.
We, are that rope on the bridge of life, for our children. 
Without this guide, our children can grow up without a respect and/or understanding for their own boundaries, for others, and for the Earth's. 
Being the rope, will often anger or make your child upset with you...But, it's important to hold tight...for if you unravel, your child is left without a safety net, and a world without a safety net can be paralyzing...
When my rope starts to unravel, I notice there are changes within my children and within myself and within my marriage.
When, I am unclear with limits and boundaries, the children are more demanding, unhappy, not appreciative.
When my husband and I forget to take seriously and reassess our beliefs and family culture, we fight more.
When, I am too wishy washy with decisions, I don't enjoy being a mom as much.
These are all reminders for me...I think it's time to put a stronger rope up on the bridge...