Mondays might be a tiny bit different around here. DMagazine’s DMoms and I are going to try out a little blogging relationship. Since you guys know my flakey/procrastinatey tendencies, let’s hope I can keep up with my end of the bargain to have a post for them every Monday. Linking what I do there, here … sharing what’s going on in both spots will be a huge help to me.
Is that okay with you guys?? Let’s hope it works… then we can have even more moms walking the road with us. On this trip… the more is absolutely the merrier.
Thanks for walking it with me.
I lean back from the driver’s seat and wave to my littlest guy getting out of the car for kindergarten.
Watching him, book bag balanced perfectly on his shoulder, walk to class by himself, I can’t help but notice the carpool group of kids running up behind him. Instantly, I’m catapulted to a few short years earlier. Memories of my oldest, now 15, flood my thoughts.
When my first child met the education circuit for the first time, I for sure lined up a carpool of kids to join the ride … of “cool” kids, no less. I wanted him to feel like he had friends. I didn’t want him to be left out or have to search for someone to talk to. His self-esteem was in play. And the players can be mean. Hurtful at times.
Not once did that boy walk into or out of school alone. In fact, when he hit middle school, I actually drove fifteen minutes out of the way to pick up one of his friends so he wouldn’t have to enter those big scary doors to face the ferocious middle-school crowd alone. Fifteen minutes might not sound like much, but add to the equation getting three other kids to different schools, and let’s just admit … I’m a coddling fool.
What is it with a mom’s incessant need to smooth the road so our kids can be happy? The age gap between kindergarten Jack, my little surprise tag-a-long, and the rest of our brood affords me the opportunity to (more often than I would like) realize how silly I can be. The countless carpools I’ve arranged so a kid will be included. The art camps, music lessons, and language classes – all so they will be “well-rounded” or “ahead” or … I don’t know. Something great, I’m sure.
And then I hear them saying to each other in the back of the car (as if I can’t hear), “Do you remember when we had she made us have ‘swim refresher’ lessons?!” followed by audible eye-rolls and a chorus of exaggerated “yeah”s.
Okay, so yes I did make my crew hit the pool with stroke instruction lessons during one Christmas vacation. I didn’t want them to feel awkward walking into the mid-season of swim-team that I was forcing them all to join the next semester. Why might you ask did they all have to join the swim team? Because our oldest isn’t an athlete. He needed to get P.E. credit for school. The school said he could do an off-campus regime. Swim team fit our schedule and met the requirement. So I signed him up. And since I didn’t want him to have to go it alone (lest it be too stressful – walking out to the pool by himself, kids you don’t know, lack of coordination, etc…), I forced his siblings to join the team for built in acceptance.
Pathetic. I know. And yet, I struggle to stop myself.
Until I watch Jack.
Last in line, he doesn’t get a finagley mother (She’s too busy smoothing everyone else’s road.) And, he’s just fine. Jack walks into school by himself. Finds his class by himself. Eats or doesn’t eat the lunch they give him … himself. Rarely does he have a play date. (His friends are in our house and share the same his last name). He was the only boy in his preschool class of eight kids last year. He has never watched, listened to or played with educational material. According to societal convention, he should be washed up at this point.
But, guess what? He has survived. Dare I say thrived. He’s arguably the most well-adjusted of our entire bunch… including me.
I know that some of the best parenting comes in the form of:
- letting your kids stand on their own two feet
- encouraging them to forge uncharted territory on their own
- walking behind and sometimes alongside rather than ahead
- letting them fall
It’s just nice to watch validity in action via a well-adjusted, independent five-year-old.
(click here to leave a comment and let DMoms know what you think: DMoms Blog – Thoughts from a Recovering Helicopter Mom)
Having 4 kids ranging from age 11 to 4, I totally agree with this entire post! Our youngest is by far the most self sufficient, smartest, out going and “can play by himself” one of them all. The older kids have taught him so much and he just revels in getting to help them or be a part of what they are doing…not once has he had a gymboree class, tumbling, music class, and only a few play dates. He would totally go to kindergarten this year with his older brother if they would let him go at 4…he is the most well rounded kid ever. If only we’d known we didn’t have to do all of those crazy things for the first few kids :) Love your blog, love your book!