What, Me Worry?

January 17, 2013 § 9 Comments


A couple of weeks ago, a friend came over to help the boys make pack baskets. They’d made small baskets before, of willow whips and birch bark, but never anything quite so ambitious as these, and I was skeptical that they could summon the attention to detail and simple patience necessary. I needn’t have worried.

Two days ago we slaughtered pigs, and the boys wanted to be the ones to do the killing. Each has shot literally 1,000’s of rounds from through their guns and I knew they possessed the familiarity and marksmanship necessary to do the job. Still, it seemed like a big step, and I was nervous. I needn’t have worried.

Often, the boys disappear for hours into the woods, or across the neighboring farm fields, to which they have been granted unfettered access by our most generous neighbors. Occasionally, I find myself surrendering to an irrational fear – that they might become lost, or stumble upon a pack of rabid wolves, or be crushed under a falling tree. But of course they always return home safely, less the occasional bramble scratch or bruised knee. In every case, of course, I needn’t have worried.

It is not that there is no risk in allowing children to explore their boundaries, whether those boundaries are literal, physical, or emotional. Of course there is. There always has been, and always will be.

But I strongly suspect that the far greater risk is in not allowing them to explore these boundaries in the first place.






§ 9 Responses to What, Me Worry?

  • Jennifer Fisk says:

    Beautiful baskets. Are they ash?
    Glad to hear you allowed the boys to dispatch the pigs. They are learning such fantastic lessons from living your lifestyle.

  • maggiemehaffey says:

    Gorgeous, those baskets! You are raising intelligent, resourceful, resilient children with, (I say unfortunately, but not really…) the skill set they’ll need to thrive when the infrastructure crumbles. Even if not, the world is changing fast and knowing how to feed yourself is going to be increasingly important, I believe. Good for you and Penny!

  • Holy cow, and I worry about letting them go sledding on their own! What I wouldn’t give…

  • Dave says:

    I think it’s our job as parents to worry about our kids. That being said I also think it’s also our job to let our kids be independent and learn by making their own mistakes. They won’t ever learn from those mistakes unless we give them the space and freedom to sort stuff out on their own sometimes.

    Those baskets are stout, looks like the boys did a nice job.

  • Vonnie says:

    I’ve one son who was afraid to learn to shoot because he thought he’d have to hunt, and this kid has a serious love affair with all things fluffy. It took some convincing him that its just that we want him to know how to be safe with a gun since my husband has hunting guns in the house. The other son went hunting with my husband and loved it. Never know what’s gonna take with those crazy boys! but, I do think allowing them the chances to have the experiences is of utmost importance. Your boys are so lucky to have the free access to unfettered spaces. Where we live, every property line is closely guarded and they are not allowed to cross them, everyone is very conscious of their little plot line. I wish the boys had the freedom I had as a kid to trail ride on a thousand acres of wilderness. You and Penny are raising some fine boys to be interesting, inquisitive adults. Certainly the type of boys I hope mine will be and could befriend. ~Vonnie

    • Ben Hewitt says:

      Hey Vonnie,

      Thanks so much for the note. I sure do appreciate the generosity of our neighbors. It’s amazing to me to think about how our society insists on isolating ourselves from one another via restricted access to private property. Heck, the average squirrel has more freedom of motion than the average American human. It’s tremendously sad to me.

  • I grew up roaming the local countryside on horseback – I had a sturdy, phlegmatic pony who put up with a lot. We’d be gone for hours on a nice day, and I never saw evidence that my folks were anxious. Turns out, as they told me during “do you remembers” once I was an adult – they worried plenty, but felt that the benefits outweighed the risks. And, obviously, here I am decades later, alive and well, and better for the experience. I’ve had a hard time fighting parental paranoia myself, I can’t imagine what I’d be like if I hadn’t been given such freedom and encouragement as a child. By the way, I fell off that pony plenty – once into a ground wasps nest (which is what caused the pony to bolt in the first place), but the only time I was seriously injured was in my own field, with my parents watching – what an irony!

  • Rachel says:

    Love the motion of that picture. Run, boys! Gorgeous baskets.
    I was turned loose on the streets of Berkeley, which are arguably more dangerous than the woods (or maybe not). I admire my parents greatly for not knowing exactly where I was for much of the years between ages 8 – 18.

  • Kim says:

    Brilliant blog. Thank you.

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