“Before the mountains call to you, before you leave this home; I want to teach your heart to trust, as I will teach my own; But sometimes I will ask the moon where it shined upon you last; And shake my head and laugh and say, “it all went by so fast.” ~ Dar Williams
Little N is at Hurricane Harbor today with four of her friends. Unchaperoned. When she first asked for permission to go on this trip a month ago, my reactions covered a wide range:
- No way!
- Whose parents are chaperoning?
- Ok, me, daddy, and little A will accompany you guys.
- Fine, go on your own, but you need to text and check in with me every hour on the hour.
Why didn’t we go along, you ask? Well. After doing Disney in April and Hershey Park a couple of weeks back, those of us that are not (almost) teens are quite theme parked out. Plus, N and I are not swimmers, so water parks only hold so much charm. How to cough up $50 a pop for three people to just sit around outdoors for an entire Sunday – and, mind you, out of sight of the teen group that you are supposed to be chaperoning? Option was simply not attractive.
Got off the “you need to text me every hour” tree pretty quickly as well. As little N put it, “Mommy, we could be in long lines to get on rides and our phones will be in a locker somewhere. I will be on edge the whole time keeping track of whether it’s time for the next text.” I reluctantly agreed with the logic but was still not happy with the whole deal. N briefly looked into GPS trackers for kids, which of course, was immediately shot down by our budding free bird.
So. Here we are, on the big day. A bright and sunny day, perfect for the outing. I calmly dropped off little N at her friend’s place, and reminded the girls that I will pick them up at 6:30 pm from the park entrance. Indeed, I seemed (and more importantly, felt) more calm than a couple of the other moms who were standing around repeatedly reminding their girls to stay with the group at all times, eat lunch together, etc. What brought about the change in me, you ask?
Well. In serendipitous timing (for little N), a few weeks back, I started reading “How to Raise an Adult” by Julie Lythcott-Haims (an excellent book, a must-read for helicopter parents like myself). Read about parents that “check in with their kids before, during, and after activities” (hmmmm…. where have we heard that before?), and just don’t allow room for their children to negotiate the world on their own. By the time I was 12, I was routinely taking public transportation to school with my sister, riding my bike alone (sometimes for hours) all around my neighborhood, and doing grocery shopping and running errands for my mom. And yet, the thought of my teen doing any of those things gives me the shivers. Why should it be so?
Reading the book opened my mind a sliver, enough to talk it over with N. And we agreed to send little N on her first solo adventure. It is now 2:30 pm. Little N has texted me twice, I am happy to report. I am happier to report that I didn’t text her once asking her what is going on and how they are doing. We are both learning.
Ah, that sweet first taste of freedom and taking responsibility for yourself. I am sure little N will walk two inches taller when I pick her up tonight. 🙂