We went on our last official adventure of the summer last weekend. We went out to River Ranch to meet up with the in-laws and cousins for lunch. I thought it was better than great but that was mostly because I didn't have to clean the house before anyone came over. (Keepin' it realz. You know you do it, too.) They have a petting zoo/barn, pony rides, trail rides, skeet shooting range, airboat and swamp buggy rides, miniature golf, an airport, regular golf course, fishing, camping, hay rides, rodeo on Saturday nights, and a nice little restaurant. There is plenty to keep the entire family busy.
I, being raised on a farm, thought it lacked somewhat. It is billed as an "authentic Dude Ranch." When your means of money making is tourism, it's a bit hard to think of it as any kind of ranch. I suppose it was awesome for city slickers. Those of us raised in the country look at these super well-trained animals as boring. I mean, where is the excitement in riding a horse that doesn't really gallop full out but practices a gated canter? That stops every time. That follows the others. It takes no skill is what I'm trying to say.
It was common to see my sister and I playing around our farm. We used to ride our sow pigs like bucking broncos. (They can really buck, too.) Or practice running up behind our horse and jump on from behind to mount like they do in the movies (that is so hard with a tall horse). I bounced off their hindquarters and landed in a heap many times. We loved to play hide and seek on our horses, sneaking up behind one another and spooking them so they would jump. Taking your horse swimming in lakes and hanging to their mane as they swim. Or setting up obstacle courses to grab flags and jump objects to see who could do it the fastest. Rigging up our saddles like trick saddles so we could stand on them while our horses were moving. You know, just having fun.
Out at River Ranch, you had to be 8 years old to go on the trail ride. What the??? I lead trail rides for novices by the time I was 8. I digress, this is a place for city slickers. I realize.
So, THE Princess is riding the ponies. I am taking her picture and telling her NOT to hold on with her hands. (Real riders don't hold on to the saddle horn, that's where your rope goes.) I am telling her to wave. And smile. Then I tell her to pet her horse while she rides. Then turn around and give his rump a pat.
She did all of it, without an ounce of fear. (She really didn't need to be fearful, these ponies seemed to have undergone lobotomies recently and they weren't going to do much.)
I look over and the other 3 sets of parents are stricken. One mom yells, "No! Don't do that! You could be killed!" Seriously. I looked at her in wonderment. "Killed" was taking it a bit far. I didn't say anything, but I am sure I rolled my eyes. I couldn't hold it in. I know, I am totally immature. As the kids were getting off their mounts, the other parents were discussing my lack of concern for the safety of my child.
So, once again I am a bad parent. As you can see from the pictures, THE Princess was totally scarred from the entire event. How will she ever make it to adulthood in one piece?
My point is, do we keep our kids too safe? I choose to let my kids take some risks. To adventure. To enjoy. Guess what? Sometimes they get hurt. But, more often than not, they have fun and learn something. Especially if they get hurt. (As the saying goes, "Even an ass doesn't bump his head in the same place twice." Unfortunately, I do. What does that make me?) I am the mom that secretly hopes that our little one-eyed-dog will nip THE Princess when she picks him up by the tail. Apparently, me telling her not to do it is not hitting home with her. Poor dog.
My husband and I find that this is our biggest disagreement in raising our children. I say let them try something even if they may get hurt. He disagrees, not wanting them to get hurt. Ever. Sometimes you scrape your knee, and I am okay with that. He says no, if they could possibly get hurt, don't let them do it.
I do shelter my kids in many ways. We don't watch TV, too much gratuitous violence and cursing. I am vigilant about them being around outside influences. Certain toys (Bratz dolls) and clothes (anything with writing across the hind end, to start with) are just not acceptable. No matter what.
So what do you think? Am I a bad parent or what? Where is the line drawn? Just wondering.