SCRAPED KNEES & CLIMBING TREES // letting kids be kids

tree climbing big sis

‘One that would have the fruit must climb the tree’ – Thomas Fuller

I was about six or seven when I broke my first bone. I fractured my left elbow falling from the monkey bars; I probably only dropped a few feet, but it was the seventies, so it was probably straight on to concrete.

Over the next 15 years I added to the injury list with a second fractured elbow (the right one this time), a broken wrist, cracked heel, ruptured ankle ligament, a broken rib, and the first of eight (and counting) shoulder dislocations.

But, looking back, I don’t feel feel sorry for myself, I feel sorry for my poor mum. Can you imagine having to see your child in that much pain, that often? *shudders*

My girls *touch wood* haven’t showed any sign of following in my accident-prone footsteps, but it doesn’t stop me imagining the worst, because I know how quickly life can take you from the playground to the A&E waiting room.

So it’s quite a battle for me to find that balance between stopping them from doing what I did, and letting them just be kids. I don’t want them to be nervous children, or too scared to try anything new – one of the things I love the very most about them is their fearlessness and adventurous spirits.

I want them to climb trees, and roly-poly down hills and leap into lakes. I want them to feel adrenalin coursing through their veins, and scream with that intoxicating mix of fear and excitement, and experience that feeling of achievement when they conquer something they didn’t think you could.

I want them to live. 

Which means I spend a LOT of time standing next to playgrounds with a pasted-on smile, pretending like I’m not totally freaking out as they dangle from ropes and scramble up nets, and sprint across suspension bridges.

I shout encouragement, and give them the thumbs-up, and congratulate them on how brave they are, but what I really want to do is scream: ‘Get down from there THIS INSTANT!’ Then bundle them into the car, take them home, lock the door and breeeeeeeathe… 

Take these photos, for example. We were wandering around a gorgeous National Trust property when the girls spotted this gnarly old tree. ‘TREE CLIMBING!’ Big Sis shouted, running straight over and scaling the lower branches.

tree climbing Lil Sis

Of course then Lil Sis had to follow her, refusing my (slightly panicked) offers to help her up, or hold her hand.

For 20 torturous minutes I stood and cringed watched as they wound themselves round the knotty trunk, and shuffled along its twisted boughs. I cursed every episode of 24 Hours In A&E I’d ever watched, and every magazine feature I’d ever written about kids falling out of windows (you’d be shocked how often it happens).

They were having a blast, while I was in a strange kind of hell only truly understood by parents. And while I loved the fact they were having a blast, I was simultaneously counting the minutes until I could entice them down with the promise of a slice of cake in the café.

Please tell me I’m not the only parent who feels like this?!


Let kids be kids


  1. Ah luckily as a child I haven’t injured any bones which was shocking cos I was climbing trees, jumping off walls without a care in the world lol X
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  2. Oh I so feel like this! Especially at the park when my little one is running around. I was never an adventurous child myself so it’s hard seeing my little one doing things I see as too dangerous but at same time want him to be able to live, have fun and be fearless.

  3. I am not a parent but I know what you mean, having had a lot of experience with kids it is nerve wrecking to contemplate letting them do their own thing but it has to be done. It is scary though.
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  4. It’s such a delicate balance, isn’t it? I’d always rather the bumps and bruises and the adventures over the alternative – I had a real outdoorsy childhood and those are some of my fondest memories.

  5. I used to love climbing trees when I was younger, exploring the world in my own way. Yes I was always covered in scrapes and bruises but I was also having fun. x

  6. Oh I was always up and down trees as a kid, there was none of this needing landing matts and cork to soften the blow if I fell x

  7. It’s hard being a parent, letting them do thing, exploring on their own for example without over protecting them
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  8. It must be tough wanting them to explore and be kids but wanting to keep them safe x
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  9. I definitely get where you’re coming from. It’s good to let them do what kids do but it can be seriously scary.

  10. I used to love climbing trees when I was younger, not sure why though.

  11. I’m sure you’re not the only parent who feels like this! But it’s great you’re letting them do what kids want to do and create fun memories for them x

  12. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy - October 25, 2016 reply

    I think too many people wrap their kids in cotton wool and they are missing out on so much fun. I loved climbing trees when I was a kid.

  13. I was like you! First break at 2 when I lifted and dropped a stone bird table on my foot! I have broken all sorts of bones through my adventures and misadventures and if I ever had children, I would let them explore too – they would be doing it with me anyway as I still haven’t stopped!

  14. I used to love climbing trees when I was little but my mum hated it x

  15. I feel the same even when I’m not a parent! To see kids enjoying themselves climbing trees and doing their own little obstacles is so lovely but there’s always that worry!
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  16. Your photos are fantastic. I let mine climb the tree at my parents although they don’t get very high. It’s great to let them do things like that though.
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  17. I totally understand what you mean and I am exactly the same. I don’t like my kids doing anything remotely dangerous.

  18. I totally hear this. Mud, climbing trees, running free and getting dirty, it’s all part of being a child, a glorious part that is crucial to growth, learning and development.
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  19. Oh all the yes to this! I would hate to be the parent that couldn’t let my children BE children and explore, get messy and just enjoy. H x
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  20. Totally agree, I used to climb trees as well as a kid too, it was great fun
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  21. I can definitely relate to this. Both of my children love to explore and have their own adventures, as all kids do, it’s their way of learning. I love watching them experience life and have fun but I do have a constant worry in my stomach as they climb trees, run along a wall and chase fairly aggressive geese. It’s natural for us to worry just as natural as it is for them to get a few knocks and scrapes, it’s all part of growing up and like you I just want them to live, enjoy their childhood, because at some point all of this fun disappears and is replaced with a different kind of life x

  22. It must be really exciting, but in the same time a little bit weird seeing them do some crazy things, but it’s how they grow 🙂

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