Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Big, Happy Exhalation

     Somewhere on this playground behind my house, my son and his playdate are playing at this very moment while I sit on my back deck that overlooks the park, keeping one eye on them and the other on my laptop. I am exhaling deeply and happily as they play outdoors together without me! No waiting to exhale, although I am wondering if this miraculous event might be interrupted at any moment. Could it be that I am entering a new era wherein Knox plays with an age-mate in ways that don't involve mom??!!
     This half-hour is the longest Knox and a friend have ever gone without my involvement. This strikes me as so natural and healthy. It's the way my childhood was. I played for hours on end with my neighborhood girlfriends, outdoors and indoors, without any direct participation from our mothers. We even got our own snacks and drinks, as I recall. Perhaps they occasionally served a snack or procured some material we needed for our play, but we were blissfully self-sufficient for the most part, unless my childhood memory distorts the truth.
     I so want to raise a child who has the wherewithal to play with his friends unassisted and unrefereed. I want him to know the boundaries like I did as a child, and to have instinctive good sense about people to avoid or when to holler for mom. I remember when I was in second grade that my school in San Diego had a half-day each week, and my friends and I would walk unaccompanied across a major intersection to the Carl's Jr. fast food joint at the top of our street. We ordered our lunches and ate together, completely unchaperoned. We were allowed to walk without parents to Baskin-Robbins or the drugstore ice cream counter. I even walked two miles to a gift shop with a friend at age 8. We never went out of bounds or encountered any problems whatsoever. I knew to get away from any adult who made me uncomfortable for any reason, and I did have to do that on a few occasions throughout childhood.
     It will be interesting to navigate a shift toward more independence with my now 6-year-old son. I tend toward hovering and protecting, but right now I'm enjoying hovering from a safe distance and allowing both him and myself to taste some very healthy, happy freedom!

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Starting to feel the same sense of freedom lately... I think our kids are just growing up! AMEN. I remember ALL those memories you shared, and I hope our kids get to enjoy that same freedom we had. We're trying to raise "free-range kids". Maybe it's a little easier over here than in the US, but I really think the media has brainwashed a lot of parents over there to be paranoid. (for example, a child is MUCH more likely to run away from home than it is to be kidnapped.) Here's an inspiring link: