I’m in a mood.
Generally, when it comes to parenting, I feel like I know what I’m doing. Not perfectly, not cockily, but I have a sense. I know what the experts are saying, I talk to my friends, to my parents, but mostly I let my gut guide me.
I set boundaries, I say no plenty, I’ve never felt a need to be my children’s friend.
I think I’m doing okay.
But it feels like I’ve been cheating.
Because until now, my gut has been nicely aligned with modern wisdom. And I think that my kids have done well.
But now I am stumped.
And hence the mood.
Because although I want to agree so much with the Free Range Kid principles, I just can’t.
Not for my kids.
My thirteen year old daughter is in the midst of high school applications and some of the schools are a subway ride away from home. Subway rides that she would have to take by herself. Not entirely by herself, of course, but with strangers. In New York City. On the subway. Without me.
To me, that means she shouldn’t be applying to those schools. To my husband, and most other people that I’ve spoken to, it means that I need to get with the program and, well, unclench.
When Amy last week wondered if we were asking too little of our children, I agreed with her.
But when I followed to a link to an article that suggests that a first grader should be able to walk around his neighborhood alone, I reacted strongly.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m certain that there are first graders who can handle an unattended walk around their neighborhood. But I don’t know that I’ve ever met one. And I certainly didn’t give birth to any.
I get it.
We shouldn’t let fear rule our lives.
Free Range Kids Lenore Skenazy founder writes that the Free Range Kid is a kid who gets treated as a smart, young, capable individual, not an invalid who needs constant attention and help.
And how can anyone not subscribe to that?
And I want that for my kids.
Except although I think that they are smart, young and capable, they live in a world that often doesn’t value children and doesn’t protect them. I think that children are vulnerable. I think that there are adults who set out to hurt children.
I also know that we live during scary times. I don’t want to say terrorism, but yes, terrorism. I don’t want my children to be on the subway without me when this happens again.
I know what you’re thinking. What could you have done, Marinka, if you’d been trapped on that train with them? I don’t know. Probably panicked. And not been helpful. But I know that if there’s a problem, I want to be right next to them.
And that makes me think that this is more about me.
I know that my kind of thinking is dangerous. I know that I cannot envelop my children in a blanket of fear and yet expect them to grow up to be independent adults. I know that I can’t hold their hand forever.
But if everything in my soul says “she’s too young!” shouldn’t I listen?
Or is that just a mother’s voice that doesn’t want to let go?
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know me. You know my kids. I want to hear your thoughts about it. All of them.