The kids were home from school today because of the holiday. Pepper was at a sleepover with a friend, so only girls were at home. They had a marvelous morning outside climbing trees, building forts with dried banana leaves, and getting along perfectly. I packed them a picnic basket for lunch, and they ate their lunch in their tree forts. Perfection!
About an hour into their morning, I looked outside and saw Snapper up the cedar tree in the backyard. She was about 15 feet up, and the branches were probably only 3 inches in diameter. I quickly went out and reminded her of our tree climbing rule: Do not climb if the branches are smaller around than your arm. They will not support your weight. Even the branches at the bottom of that tree are too small, and it was a disaster waiting to happen.
I brought all the kids inside and reviewed tree safety rules with them.
1. Do not put any weight on a branch that is smaller around than your arm.
2. Wear long pants and shoes.
3. Do not climb with anything in your hands or mouth.
4. Do not climb higher than you are okay with falling.
The kids went back out. Bubbles took the oak tree. Piper took the grapefruit tree. Sunny took the tangerine tree. Snapper took the avocado tree. The two citrus trees are the safest because they have fairly densely packed branches. If a kid were to fall, the branches would scratch her up a bit, but would definitely keep the fall from doing any real damage. The oak and the avocado are a totally different story. They are tall, and the good climbing branches are about 4 feet off the ground. There's definitely some risk involved in tree climbing, but I believe that kids should be allowed to be kids, and that they need these adventurous kid experiences without being restricted and regulated. I fell out of a few trees as a kid, and I grew to be a wise, savvy tree climber as a result. My mom reminded us of safety rules, and my sister and I honored the rules.
Snapper learned the hard way today that my safety rules were not just made up for the fun of it. That rule about the size of the branch...it's legit. Mommy does not lie. I always mean what I say. She was about 10 feet up when she grabbed a slender branch to hoist herself up. She wasn't trying to step on it or hang on it, she was just using it as a grip. Whatever the case, it was skinny. Skinnier than Snapper's arm. She put way too much weight on it, it snapped, and down she went. She ricocheted off a branch, caught another branch in her armpit, and fell 6 feet onto the grass, landing flat on her side. Fortunately for her, she fell away from the fence. Fortunately for her, she was wearing long pants, long sleeves, and tennis shoes. Fortunately for her, she just missed falling into the crotch of the tree. Fortunately for her, she narrowly missed landing on the three small stumps at the base of the tree. Snapper's left armpit is like raw hamburger, and it hurts like the dickens. She has a massive bruise on her sternum and the base of her ribs. She has significant bruising on her right tricep, both her knees, her thighs, and her shins. There are scuffed places all over the front of her, from sternum to ankles. Her head and back and feet were spared. She is one sore kiddo, though.
I'm so thankful it wasn't worse. It could have been a whole lot worse!