Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Neglectful Parent, Happy child

Today, at home:
The three year old gathered nails of various sizes, a hammer, a screwdriver and screws, safety goggles, and asked if he could do some "banging and working, like a factory man" on our friend Andy's amplifier. Uh... NO! (but I'll help you in a moment, find something you can hammer). Not wanting to wait for me to get off the phone he went outside, found some scrap wood, and set up a little work bench in the shady corner of the deck. Bang, bang, bang, and away he goes.
This morning, at the park:
The nine year old really wanted to check out the free kid's art van project being hosted by the local arts' center, but he was worried about going halfway across this little park by himself, being that far away from me. It's nice to have kids that know to stay close, not to just wander off. I can't chase in three directions at once. But he is NINE. And the art tables were in sight of the play structure where the little kids were playing. It was SAFE!
Yesterday, at Fred Meyer:
I let the nine year old take the three year old into the men's restroom at the grocery store, without a supervising adult. I stood guard right outside, with the baby. Men and boys came and went, and my two were still inside, spending a long time carefully washing their hands, taking turns with the air dryer and tearing off paper towels. Things I always rush them through. Things they like to do. I could hear their voices, happy and good. A man and his little son went in, and I heard my little boy's cheerful voice chattering away. My boys came out, the nine year old proud I had let him go, and hadn't made him come to the women's room with me (as is usual), the three year old excited that he'd had "a nice talking" with a grown up Daddy in there. Hmm.
Yesterday, at home:
The nine year old made lunch for everyone (as he does at least a couple times a week). He chose mac and cheese- from the box with the bunny on it- and cut cucumbers, and strawberries. This is a non-event, almost, he is so used to the routine of cooking, so careful about the stove and knives and boiling hot water and steam.

I think it is interesting that the older boy is, while hardly timid by nature, clearly worried about "stranger danger" and safety rules, and has always been so, while the younger one is more worried about the possibility of not being allowed to do everything his much older brother is, and finds rules a detail not worth piffling with. Partly this is personality, partly birth order and spacing, I think, partly my emphasis on making the world safe enough for my first born and the fact that I've spent the second child's life just trying to catch him as he falls from cliffs I didn't even know existed before he figured out how to fall off of them!

I am conflicted. I want to raise adults who are fearless and bold, who will follow their hearts and change the world, who will speak their minds and know themselves to be true. I want them to grow strong and free in the light that surrounds them now, so that they can take their place in the world still bathed in the light of God and Love. But I worry- is my concern that I do everything possible to ensure that they REACH adulthood compromising the quality, not just of their childhoods, but of their adult hoods?


TKSawyer said...

It's a dance, isn't it?

mama-aya said...

And funny how many books you read about the dance, you still feel like you're the first person to ever have worked out the steps?

TKSawyer said...

You are the first person to work out the steps for your family.

RunninL8 said...

I've had many similar days!
"banging and working, like a factory man" LOL! I love it!!!
And a "nice talking"...I would have given him the 3rd degree!!! Ha!
enjoying your blog! Where in Alaska did you live? Thanks for stopping by! We may have similar political views-feel free to stop by my more snarky and raw political blog!

Lisa Russell said...

All is well, period. He is who he is, you keep being who you are. it sounds to me like a healthy sense of self-preservation because he knows his own limits. It's all good.

mama-aya said...

Thanks, Lisa! It's all true, but... what if who I am is the Mom who CAN'T let 'em out of my sight, ever? I feel like letting them go and explore and be and do is good, but better if I can trust that they'll be fine, that they'll make it, but not so good if I'm standing back tearing out my hair and being worried. Letting them be maybe isn't enough- letting them be confidently is what's good. Or maybe I'm wasting too much time worrying about too much. It's possible.