One morning after a rainstorm, we went to check out the aftermath. This draw is right in front of our house and Emry plays down here every chance she gets. Hays has been getting so much rain this summer, it is unreal. We are typically in drought conditions at this point so for the kids to get to experience this kind of lush, green and wet is very neat.
I didn’t know exactly where this journal entry was going to go. To the left of me, right outside my camera frame, was a belligerent man who was there for the entire duration while they played. I get a tightening in my chest when I look at these pictures because instead of remembering the pure joy and rare wet summer the kids were immensely enjoying, I am going to remember how I felt so unequivocally judged as a parent.
He stood there, with his phone out, shaking his head, telling me that my kids should not be near the water. I do not know what happened to this man in his life, he may have witnessed a drowning. But he also does not know us. My kids will have experiences in their life, I do not deter them from feeling out chancy adventures.
I mulled over this situation all day. My children were not unsafe. I was standing a mere few feet away and the water was up to my knees. Yes, there was force behind these uncommon currents, but Emry had Liam so tight in her grip, Liam can swim and I was RIGHT THERE. The man doesn’t know my kids, more than I know that man.
What I truly did not appreciate was his judgmental stare and harsh words. This is a situation I have never in my life been in, and his behavior was not welcome. In his eyes I was being an irresponsible parent. In my eyes, he made me feel very uncomfortable. Neither of us will win, and ultimately I am going to have to wash my hands of the experience. He walks our neighborhood frequently and he is going to see my shoeless, wild children climbing trees, scaling stone walls, playing in the water. 98% of the time I know what they are doing, the other 2% they are possibly pushing boundaries that will serve them very well in their adult life.
I love my kids. I love them enough to watch them play, watch them get hurt, watch them be creative, and watch them explore. This is how I parent, in all of its imperfection. It is very similar to my upbringing and I know how to survive without an iPad. If I have one goal in life, it is to equip my kids so that they are not reliant on technology to define their entertainment and self worth. If that means standing in a rushing stream every day while under the reproachful stare of a stranger, then bring on the rain.