Monday, March 4, 2013

Play in the street

Yesterday it was beautiful.  The sun was shining (winter in Oregon/rarity) and the flowers were popping up.  The weeds were popping up too and last summer I did an overhaul to take back the front yard.  I knew this was the time for waging war on the grass creeping in to my herb garden.

My children were also inspired by the presence of sunshine and dusted off bike helmets, scooters and bicycles. " Mom, can we go for a ride? Come on mom lets go".  But the yard was waiting, and the time of sun was fleeting.  Childhood is fleeting I told myself and started to take off my garden gloves and come along.  Something stopped me.  Maybe it was a distant memory of roaming my grandparents subdivision as a child.  That faint recollection of the thrill of independence and adventure.

"You can go without me"

I almost couldn't believe I said it, but at the same time I knew it was right.
My ever cautious daughter was certain I was kidding and it actually took some convincing that she and her brother would be just fine without me.  (My insides squirmed as I offered encouraging words to let her know they were ready and it would be ok.)  The truth is, I didn't know they would be ok. I don't know if my mother worried about me in the same way that I did yesterday.  Media has this whole "the world is dangerous, don't blink near your kids or they will be snatched or murdered" thing going so strong that even when I don't believe it, in the back of my head I totally believe it.  At the same time I know that this is good for kids, this taste of independence, this taste of trust. It builds them up.  Maybe they have to problem solve a bit without me, but that is what I want right?

It also wasn't as if I let them go wherever they wanted to, not yet, I am still not letting go too far.  I walked down the side street next to our home.  I went over the parameters they were free to roam, instructions on if someone gets hurt, and I was in the front yard.  If somebody yelled I would have heard it.
Then I went back and weeded, and worried,I prayed for protection and that I wasn't being an idiot by telling them to go.  I was also angry that I was worried.  I was worried what other parents would think of me.  I was worried that I made a horrible mistake and they would be hit by a car. (Sunday afternoon, families playing ball in the street, side street.)  

I grew up playing in the forest full of freedom, visiting my grandparents and being gone for hours.  Does anyone do that anymore?  Do all the children just stay tethered to parents and home?   These are questions that bounce in my brain.
 The biggest of my questions is, will I always have that whisper of worry and fear every time I let them out of adult supervision?  This is one I will be exploring and I will let you know how it turns out because even though it scares me I know it's so valuable for my kids.