Does your kid do shit that often has you holding your breath? Or causing your mind to conjure up awful images? Most of them with your kid splayed out on the ground bleeding profusely from their head or with a limb bent at an unnatural angle? If you answered yes to these things, chances are your kid is a daredevil.
Daredevils chase after thrills, and for even the littlest daredevils, there is a certain rush of pleasure that they get from giving their moms a heart attack.
From the minute my now-almost-4-year-old son learned how to walk, he was itching for something bigger and better. Only a few weeks after his 1st birthday, he was trying to master going up and down flights of stairs. Climbing has always been his thing, the higher, the steeper, the better.
Once he mastered the stairs, it was time for the jungle gym. When the regular climbing ladders became too easy, he was determined to master the oddly shaped, curved ones at the playground. Once those became easy, he grew bored. So he’s brought his adventurousness inside the house now. I can’t tell you how much of my day I spend asking him to “please, get down.”
He creates elaborate obstacle courses with the furniture and jumps from the arm of one chair to another, moving them farther apart as he becomes accustomed to the distance. My heart leaps into my throat every time I see him with a chair, and I thank god that we’re insured (I’m also considering getting rid of all the chairs). I am constantly amazed by the fact that we’ve yet to end up in the emergency room. Though I’m sure our time is coming.
Only mothers of daredevil children understand the true terror of having an Evil Kenevil kid — the heart-stopping moment when they’re airborne and you wonder if your reflexes are fast enough to catch them before they inevitably hit the ground. Sometimes, they manage to stick the landing and the relief floods your body as the color comes back into your face. I reached out to other moms of daredevil kids to hear what crazy shit their kids do, too, so none of us will have to feel quite so alone in our terror.
Staci told me about her son who is seriously the epitome of a daredevil child: “My 7-year-old climbed up on a two-story roof and belly-flopped off of it into a snow drift. Climbed. 14-foot chain link fence when he was 15 months old.” He’s a sensory-seeker who has only had three (!) sets of stitches so far. Only three!
Debbie’s little boy constantly scares the ever-loving shit out of her, especially because her older child is far more…calm, if you will. “He climbs into the refrigerator, moves furniture around to climb to the top of the pantry. The other night, I was cooking dinner, and he climbed up on top of the couch, wrapped the cord to the blinds around his wrist, and JUMPED OFF.” She was there to catch him and unwrap the cord from around his wrist, thank god. Talk about freaky!
And it’s not just boys, girls can be daredevils too. Leslie’s daughter has always had a daredevil streak, but it’s mom who gets shamed for letting her daughter do brave things. “She does the scaling fences and jumping over five or six concrete steps thing. She climbs scaffolding and jagged rocks and strangers yell at me.” You know, like she can predict these things are going to happen at any given time. Most of the time, as moms of daredevil kids know, you do not get a warning. You often don’t even get time to react until the stunt is already over.
Diana’s daughter has always been a daredevil, but she also smashes the patriarchy while she chases her thrills. “Now she cliff jumps into rivers and plays hockey. She plays football with the boys at recess and is often the one girl on the travel soccer team.” Um, we’ve got a badass over here. Obviously.
People who don’t have daredevil children just don’t understand what it’s like. They think we’re raising some sort of feral animal trapped in a child’s body that can’t contain themselves. And we kind of are, but they were born this way. We did not create these monsters — we are simply entrusted to keep them safe.
Yes, they’re literally climbing the walls, but guess what? It’s what makes them happy. Of course, we’d often prefer they kept two feet firmly planted on the ground, where they won’t break something or end up with stitches, but that’s not going to happen. Daredevil children are their own special breed. They give their poor mothers heart failure, but we love them anyway. They are brave and confident and determined.
The biggest thing I’ve learned about parenting a daredevil is that they have no fear. If only we could all be as fearless as these little firecrackers. These kids have a spirit and a determination that will not be broken. If they hold on to that spark into adulthood, there will be no stopping them.