The kids and I went to a new (well, new to them, anyways) playground this morning, and they were of course testing out the waters, seeing what they could climb, jump off of, and slide down. They are all usually pretty adventurous, and while I admittedly used to hover a bit when my oldest two were younger, I've now found great comfort in hanging back and letting them find their own way.
Today, when Evelyn attempted the big kid slide for the first time, she checked to make sure I was nearby before she climbed the stairs. She sat at the top of the slide and asked me to wait at the bottom. "Come closer mommy! Catch me!" she cried. So I did, and when she reached the bottom, I found that she really would have been just fine without me there. She may have been scared because of a long-ago previous slide experience where the force, angle, and slipperiness of the equipment made her slam right off of it and into the ground in an ego-damaging butt-plant. Maybe she thought she needed me there to save her from potential harm. But she was fine.
So, the next time she went down and implored me to catch her, I told her that I'd instead watch from the sidelines. "No baby," I said "I won't catch you this time."
She went on to slide down by herself over a dozen times, and I heard her say, "Dat was AWESOME!" with a legitimate fist pump for added enthusiasm. I saw her get bumped by someone coming down after her and heard her respond, "I'm okay." I saw her do things by herself with pride, over and over again.