I have the type of children who tell me they will never move out, and will always stay close to the home they know. They are also sort of shy, and the “no talking to strangers” has never been an issue for us. (It’s rather “when someone greets you, you greet them back”.) But still, we are watching them grow from one independence level to the other.
Lately we have been practicing crossing the street. And even though our 8 year old has been saying this knowledge will never really be relevant for him, because he is not going anywhere without us, I have been able to see beyond that, to the spark inside of him that really does want independence. This little spark is something I want to encourage. So when today at lunch that same 8 year old thought out loud that when he would be able to cross the street by himself, he could go to the local store and buy ice cream by himself, I jumped at the opportunity.
We went through every step. First the importance of absolutely no moving cars in sight when crossing the street. Then what to do at the store, especially when he would like to have as little verbal communication as possible with the people there. He was going to pay with a larger bill, so as to be completely sure that he had enough… (I still remember that feeling from being a child.)
And off they went. Him and his sister. She is almost two years younger, but still, he felt SO much more confident when they would go together.
I watched them run up the street. Mixed feelings. Proud of my big children moving towards independence. A tiny bit worried, – hoping I was doing the right thing, if something, anything was to go wrong, it would afterwards look like a really bad thing to send them alone, and for what??
But before I knew it, they were back. Ice creams in hand! All went well! He had even opened his mouth and asked if he could please have change for the bill he paid with… The man had laughed, but it was OK. Everything was fine. The only thing, they said, they were sorry they didn’t bring home an ice cream for me… But nobody needs to feel sorry for me! I just helped myself to a bowl of my yummy homemade cookie dough ice cream from the freezer. Mmm! We were celebrating, weren’t we??
And when we sat there in the garden, enjoying our ice creams, I tried to sum up the experience and asked him how he felt. He smiled: “I am happy that I succeeded.” And I was so happy that I went with the moment this time. And really, I did have peace about it all along, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. We have to learn to trust our motherly intuition in these things, I think. All children are different. Some will send their children on these types of missions way earlier, some will wait even longer. But we all know our own children, and what is the best timing for them.