There is a beautiful, sprawling tree on top of a hill by our house. It has a rope swing and someone has nailed boards into the trunk to make it easy to get up to the crown where a splendid panorama of Almaden Valley awaits you.
The tree has a special place in clown family lore because, when we first moved in to this house 6 years ago, we went exploring and finding this delightful tree, we clambered joyfully to the top and enjoyed the view. We still call it the climbing tree.
The smallest clown – now 10 years old – loves to go visit the climbing tree and on our last expedition we ran into two girls from her school who love it too. “How wonderful to see kids out exploring like the thousands of generations of kids before them!” I thought.
So it was something of a mental challenge when the inevitable happened. The very next day, my little clown asked if she could go exploring the tree on her own. Gasp! Now I had a tricky choice to make: reckless parent or hypocritical coward. The coward on my shoulder made a persuasive case.
I have often wished – like many of my generation – that my kids could have the same experiences and freedom to wander as I had growing up. But let my little girl go climbing on her own? She could fall! Go wandering alone? Who knows who she might meet!
To be honest, I think I was more afraid of becoming America’s Worst Parent than of something happening to my daughter.
My angelic and devilish advisors found a compromise. Little clown can go exploring with a friend. Take your phone! Make sure we know where you are going! Don’t go up there if there are older kids! Make sure we know what time you’ll be back! Be safe! But most of all…