Rio took a header onto wet pavement the other day. She scraped her face up something fierce; swollen lip, bruised cheekbone, the works. It hurt, a lot. I could tell because when she was done crying about it, she continued to lay on the couch with her ice pack for almost an hour, just feeling tender and letting her body settle down. Smart kid.

The next morning, she said, “Look Mama! My cut made a crust to protect itself!” Let’s all pause for a moment and appreciate her marvelous body, and her ability to marvel at something as simple and obvious as a small cut scabbing over. It is a marvel, really. One does well to remember.

Fast forward a few hours and Rio is leading our homeschool group on a nature walk along the same stretch of pavement where she fell the day before. “Let’s have a new rule,” she says. “No more running on the sidewalk.”

“Ok,” I said. “No more running on the sidewalk.”

We all walked stoically for several paces. Rio begins to speed up, to adopt a kind of lilt to her walk. She runs a few steps, stops, runs a few more.

“Mama, what if we make a new rule, no running on the sidewalk when it is wet? Or maybe only no running in puddles? Or no running when it is actually raining?”

“Well,” I say. “Any time you run, you are taking the risk that you could fall like that. When the pavement is wet, it’s riskier, but you could always fall.”

Rio takes off at a run down the block. As if on cue, it begins to sprinkle.

“Mama, I think it was really the circus trick I was trying to do that made me fall. Next time my body says, ‘I am going to do a circus trick’, I will just say ‘Don’t fall on the ground, body!’ Does that sound like a good rule?”

“The best.”

I love how she reinvents the rules as she needs them. I love that she wants to protect her body from getting hurt again, and can figure out what caused that accident and plan to avoid it. Most of all, I love that she is not afraid to run, even knowing she might fall on her face.