Growing up, I could never do a somersault no matter how hard I tried. I watched my friends do it, tried emulating my teachers, and would diligently practice on my own at recess, in the basement, any time, any place, any chance I got. Then one day, it finally happened. I’m 42, and years later I can still remember the amazing moment I finally got it right. It felt like magic.
So when I read the Globe and Mail article about schools forbidding the practice of doing cartwheels at recess for fear of injury, it made me sad for the kids who might be deprived of that opportunity — all because today’s generation of parents are so terrified that their kids might get hurt.
Columnist Naomi Buck said it best: “Risk is a big word in parenting these days; in fact, we may be the most paranoid generation of parents in history. But as study after study demonstrates how our excessively risk-averse parenting is creating children who are less resilient, less able to overcome challenge, less agile, more fat, more insecure, and more inclined to bully or be bullied, one would hope that we would support, if not insist on, a school allowing our children to put themselves upside-down if they want to.”
It should be noted I am one of those aforementioned terrified parents, but even I would rather see my daughter take those risks rather than miss out on one of the true joys of childhood: the opportunity to be active, develop skills, and have fun.
I decided to try a somersault again last year after watching my daughter with her friends. Fun fact: it’s just as magical at 42 — maybe more so because now I have someone to show that all that childhood practice still pays off many, many years later.