This may amuse, or even satisfy, those of my friends who have long thought, silently (or not so silently) that am too loose with my kids – allow them too much freedom too early. Or that I'm not paying close enough attention to their comings and goings. That’s not to say there aren’t rules, because that’s different. But I’ve always been the mom who allowed my kids to walk to town sooner than their friends, take the bus alone, do things on their own. I don't hover.
My sister and I were raised in a family that placed a great premium on independence, both because of its inherent value and because of our circumstances. We grew up to be New York City kids, adept at riding the subways, navigating the mean streets alone, taking the train to school from the age of 11.
We both feel incredibly fortunate to have had that experience. It has prepared us for life in a positive and empowering way.
I have always wanted the same for my children, except that we live a bit more in the suburban, go-car-go culture than I would have liked. But we have public transportation, and schools close enough to walk to. So they have figured it out. My oldest has been getting himself everywhere by himself for years – he hoofs it on his own, takes the bus or metro. Even flew to Israel on his own when he was 14 (to stay with family.)
Each summer I put them on a plane to fly alone to Boston to visit their grandparents. They walk to middle school, have learned how to take the bus to “downtown” and the youngest is about to leave for 6 weeks of sleepaway camp without a worry.
But this weekend tested me in a different way, and I felt more like a mother bear than I have in a long time.