One of the hardest things about being a stay-at-home mom is convincing my inner "Safety Mom" to relax long enough for me to have fun like a kid again. And getting her to let the kids have fun like kids again.
Last week I took the Little Prince and Princess to the Coralville Dam to witness the awesome power of nature uncorked by flood control. I knew from experience (having had fun as a kid) that when they've cranked open the dam to maximum outflow, it looks really cool.
Fun Mom thought standing next to the outflow chute watching all that water rushing past just a few yards away -- roiling and splashing and bubbling -- was amazing.
Safety Mom thought it was loud, stinky, and a little too splashy for comfort. Safety Mom worried that a rogue wave would somehow suck the children over, under or through the 4-foot high chain link fence. She suspected that at the very least the Little Angels would become completely soaked with the farm-chemical and fish-poo laden river water. And they would still expect to ride home in her car. Wetter and stinkier than usual.
Fun Mom thought climbing up the rip-rap retaining wall to get a better look at the outflow and to search for fossils would be exciting.
Safety Mom worried someone would twist an ankle climbing on the rocks. Or that the rocks would give way and we would all be caught in an avalanche and crushed to death. Or that the children would disturb a rock-dwelling rattle snake. Even if the snake didn't bite them, we would still be crushed in an avalanche started by heaving a boulder at the snake.
Fun Mom thought it would be cool to climb to the top of the spillway and see how much of the beach on the other side was under water.
Safety Mom worried someone would fall over the top of the spillway and drown. Never mind that we were at the far western edge of the spillway, which is only about 6-feet above the beach and the water was only about a foot deep there. It goes without saying that we did not walk along the (3-foot wide) top of the spillway.
Fun Mom thought it would be neat to feed the ducks at City Park.
Safety Mom wondered if ducks have teeth. And do ducks get rabies? And should we really be feeding Rice Krispie Treats to the ducks?
Currently, the Little Prince bears the brunt of Safety Mom's nervous warnings. Fun Mom knows that to a 9-year-old on a skateboard, scooter or bike, every bump in the road or sidewalk is a ramp to be jumped. Safety Mom scans the area for splint-making supplies and a clearing for the emergency AirCare landing pad.
Turning the Little Prince loose to ride his bike down Orange Street Hill -- the steepest hill in town -- requires no less than four admonitions to be careful:
Safety Mom: "Be careful."
Little Prince: "I will."
SM: "No, really. Be careful."
LP: "I will."
SM: "OK, now, just be careful. And tie your shoe. You don't want your shoelace to get caught in the chain."
LP: (Sigh)" I know. What do you think is going to happen?"
SM: "If your shoelace gets caught, your chain will jam, your bike will stop and you'll go flying over the handlebars and do a face plant in the middle of the road. Try to land on your helmet. And remember you have to stop at the bottom of the hill. And there are cars parked along side the road. Be careful!"
But he is already down the hill and has stopped at the stop sign. Safely.
The best part of the best day was hearing the Little Prince breathlessly tell his father (the minute he walked in the door) "...and we stood by the fence... and the wave were at least 10 ft. tall... and we found fossils... and we climbed... and it was steep...." Because all I heard was "...do we have to... when can we... what are we doing next... and what's after that...."
I can only hope that when I say "Be careful," what they hear is "I love you."