It poured rain last night, like sheets of water poured. We always join my oldest sister and her three boys for trick or treating in the neighborhood, but as we sat staring out the window at the water running down the street like a river I felt more than a little reluctant to take them out into it. Only, when I turned to face the room behind me, I couldn’t bring myself to disappoint the three ninjas, Batman, and Cowgirl Jessie bounding around excitedly.
My sister and I decided to throw them all in the mini-van and drive from house to house instead of going it on foot. When we arrived at the first house my sister pressed a button from the driver’s seat and the door slid open. The children burst from the car, screaming, and running up the long driveway to ring the first bell of the evening and collect their reward.
“Are we just going to let them go alone? You aren’t going to get out?” I asked.
“Sure. They’re fine!” My sister wasn’t the least bit concerned.
I, on the other hand, was unconvinced.
When I looked at that driveway I saw the potential for skinned knees from slippery concrete walkways, head injuries from misplaced footing on brick steps, and what if they stepped in front of a car on their way back to the van? I couldn’t relax even when they all collected their candy and made it safely back. At the next stop and each one after, I braved the rain and the cold to walk behind them, offer a hand when climbing stairs, and provide reminders to slow down. Those driveways were too slick to sprint up and down.
There were plenty of children not much older than my son, armed with umbrellas, trick or treating with only their friends as companions. I wondered if I would ever be okay with my children leaving our home in the dark to walk the streets ringing doorbells. I simply couldn’t fathom it. As the mother of a four year old, I can’t imagine ever being comfortable with this level of independence though I know it will someday be a reality.
I can’t keep him fastened to my side forever. I want him to develop a sense of autonomy, but at what age is it okay to let my guard down a little? Am I impeding my child’s ability to become an independent adult?
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