The weekend of fishing and canoeing culminated in my daughter in the ER getting seven stitches in her hip, the result of taking a tumble on the slick rocks. Yes, there will be a scar, but it won’t be visible unless she wears a string bikini, which will never happen as long as she lives under my roof. Or turns 30, whichever come first.
An angry relative (whom I sure meant well) asked me how I “could put my daughter at risk like that,” risk meaning possible injury and potential infection from the river water. My indignant reply was that I would rather risk stitches than have her become a couch potato and suffer from obesity. Drastic comparison perhaps, but I really think that a sedentary lifestyle is just as dangerous as the risk of falls, or cuts, or bee stings, or any other potential problem we might encounter in the outdoors.
I think what my daughter will learn from facing risks in the outdoors will serve her well throughout life in other areas. The camaraderie we build as a family does not happen in front of the television (which is one reason we don’t have one). She will learn determination from tackling things that look ‘too big’ for her to handle. Video games do not teach resourcefulness like backpacking or rock-climbing does. She will learn to assess risks, and determine consequences. She will experience the satisfaction of knowing she’s tough, and finding out she’s even tougher than she thought.
Facebook will never replace campgrounds as my social network of choice. My fear of my daughter being afraid to try new things is greater than my fear she will go through life with scars and bruises. Certainly I don’t want this beautiful creature ‘all messed up’ as that well-meaning relative berated me, but I believe there is something in life experiences, even those that leave a mark.
Am I keeping my very active daughter as still as possible till the stitches heal? You bet. Will I take her out again? Of course. That scar might be a reminder to be more careful on the rocks, but it’s also a reminder of a great trip our family experienced, and the stories we’ll share from it. I’ll defend that risk any day.