We want our kids to be independent, brave, go-with-the-flow people.
We want our kids to strike out on their own, make new friends, throw themselves into new situations and swim the social seas confidently on their own accord.
So it’s good when we loosen our overprotective grips and let them do things that build that independence, like ride their bikes around the block, try new sports or activities they’ve never tried before and even spend the night at someone else’s house.
Please tell me I’m right.
Because knowing that we need to let them do this and actually surviving them doing it are two very different things. Oh — and I don’t mean the kids surviving it. They are resilient little beasts who can do just about anything they set their minds to and return without a single scratch. I mean us parents surviving it. The total mind screw of wanting our kids to start leaving the nest and being terrified that once they do they’ll never come back is the tricky part to manage. So I hear.
Recently, I saw my son off to his first sleepover at our neighbor’s house. And I kid you not, this was the dialogue that ran through my head, in the order it ran:
My son is doing fine at his first sleepover.
Which is fine.
I mean, I’m fine. Yeah.
It’s great for him to get out there!
Soooooo great that he’s doing so great without me. Overnight. For, like, 18 hours.
Not needing me.
Probably not even thinking about me.
Probably doing all the things boys do during sleepover like reading and talking about their dreams and playing video games not allowed in our home and wrestling to the point of permanent injury and lighting things on fire and whatnot. You know, the usual no-big-deal stuff.
It’s not like I was worried after he left.
It would have been totally weird if I had stood by the kitchen window that overlooks the neighbor’s backyard, washing more dishes by hand in one afternoon than I have in the previous 38 years of my life.
Then continued casually passing by that window every 3-5 minutes once the last dish was dry, slowing down to even more casually look out to see if, perchance, there was anything to see out there. In the pitch-black dark of night.
It would have been kind of paranoid of me if I had kept my phone next to me on top volume every moment of the time we have been separated.
Then obsessively checked to make sure there were bars on it.
Because it’s good to confirm that one’s cell phone service provider is doing their job. Quality control is very important.
Especially if one’s baby boy could be in the clutches of a nightmare or being fed something he hates or possibly even picked on by some other kid at a sleepover who you hastily stitched a voodoo doll of just in case, because vengeance will be yours should some stupid-faced brat mess with your angel.
Good thing I didn’t do any of that! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Because we all know that it is vital to his social skills that we immerse him in the dynamics of friendships, new and old. Without Mommy hovering by to intervene. Forcing him to make good choices, stand up for himself, use the manners I’ve been hammering into him on an hourly basis since birth.
It might, maybe, also be good for me to let go a little. Relinquish control a little. Relish in a quiet, kid-free night every once in a while. Possibly even enjoy it.
Just kidding! There’s no enjoying this. Not yet.
So until then, I’ll just be here — perched by the window with phone in hand, waiting to see if he still needs me. If not, I’ll pretend I’m cool with that and just mosey on over when it’s time to pick him up.
And don’t worry: I’ll put his old lovey that I’ve been sniffing since the moment he left back where I found it before I go.More On