Do you remember in Home Ec, you used to get those worksheets with a chaotic kitchen picture, and you had to circle all the dangerous hazards? You know, things like pan handles too close to the edge, someone sticking a knife into a socket, the stove catching fire, someone throwing a dart at someone else? Welcome to our home....
I have always been grateful to my parents for their trust in my ability to judge my own safety. I remember many times on bushwalks, climbing to the extreme outermost rock at lookouts that were hundreds of metres high; Mum and Dad must have had their hearts in their mouths, but they didn't make me come back. Because of this, I looked after myself and I grew confident in my own physical awareness and abilities.
I know some people (not mentioning any names!) cringe at what I allow my kids to do, but it is a really important, deliberate part of my parenting to allow my children to take risks and decide for themselves what they can and can't do. Sometimes this is very hard! Sometimes I just have to look away! I try to assess the situation: if they fall, will they get a few scratches and bumps, or is there genuine danger here? Of course, if there is a real danger, I stop them (like Jimmy on the stool above!), but otherwise, I feel that the chance of a little pain is worth it for the physical confidence the kids develop.
I remember Kees playing with my sewing pins when he was very little: he learnt to take care and handle sharp things slowly and gently. I remember Jimmy poised for what seemed like ages, about to crawl (fall!) down the two back steps; I so wanted to go and "save" him, but he just hovered there for a while and then called out for me to help him.
I get worried about what the kids might get into when they're teenagers, like drugs, alcohol or stupid risk-taking, but I sincerely hope that this very early preparation will give them a healthy respect for and enjoyment of their own bodies.
PS: You may be wondering why I paused to take a photo before intervening to ensure my children's safety. I'm not really sure; I guess I thought the pic was worth it. Hehehe. ;0)