So, now I'm that I'm the mom of a bonafide kid, the really hard decisions have to be made. The ones that matter so much more than what kind of diapers to buy or what kind of organic baby food is the best.
In particular, I'm grappling with the amount of freedom Soren is to have at 6 1/2 years old. Everytime he asks for a little independence, it feels like someone is rubbing my apron string with a butter knife, breaking one tiny thread at a time with a little PING. I panic, then I take a deep breath, let go, and then I'm crushed just a little bit.
He wants to go down the street by himself, knock on a friend's door, then go play in neighboring field. Without me.
I've absolutely said no. There are killers and stalkers and older bully boys and snakes and lions and freak accidents with baseballs that could happen to him.
The other day, he took off on his bike, while I was walking, left me and rode all the way home by himself. I was terrified that a car would back out the driveway and hit him. I gave him a lecture about leaving me when I finally caught up with him at home. I'm not sure he deserved it.
And, after 100 requests at least, we let him stay home all by himself for 25 minutes.
25 scary minutes.
When I got home, maybe walking a little too fast to the door, he greeted me with the biggest smile. I asked him what he did while we were gone. He said he clicked the TV a whole bunch, walked around the house and marveled at his own solitude, then sat back down on the couch and waited. He wasn't scared. He was very, very proud of being trusted to watch himself if only for a few minutes. It was a good experience for him but pretty scary for me.
Then, you think, geez when I was kid I stayed home all the time by myself. I rode my bike down the street and I even walked to the gas station on occasion.
But still — how old should a child be to stay home alone for a few minutes? Walk to school? Play in field unsupervised?
How old before I stop holding his hand everytime we cross a street?
30 sounds good.
But, I also want my son to become a responsible adult. I don't want him to live his life scared of murderers and bullys and snakes. I want him to have a childhood where he was allowed to be free and childlike. I want him to ride bikes with his friends and play baseball in the sandlot. I want him to be fearless, adventurous, and bold.
Yeah, I want him to be bold.
And a baby again.