Friday, July 16, 2010

Letting Go - Kids Under Construction

One thing I think everyone can agree on, parenting is hard work. Oh, sometimes you'll see someone who is a natural when it comes to parenting; they seem to always have the right answer to every dilemma that presents itself and the perfect solution for familial harmony. I remember my Aunt soothing my infant baby so effortlessly – a natural if ever I saw one. And some parents know just how to instill responsibility in their children – almost instinctively.

But they are the rarities.

As with many folks, my experience with parenting has been learned on the job, and frankly, I've made some mistakes. Sometimes I come out the wiser, but other times it's a lesson needing relearned. And one of the most difficult aspects of parenting for me is letting go.

Let me explain.

If kids just came with a guarantee, that would be swell. Guaranteed to grow to a ripe old age, stay healthy, with no broken bones and scraped knees, no problems with drug abuse or worries about crime – well, parents would be free to let their kids do and go just about anywhere (they would still need to look out for their spiritual health, but that's for another discussion).

This may sound crazy, but I remember the first time some neighborhood kids came to the door asking if my kids could go outside and play. Up until then, I had scheduled all of their play dates. It threw me for a loop and I believe I even stuttered. My kids go outside and play? With other kids that I didn't know well (we were new to the neighborhood)? Without me? But I did let them go out and play.

I think it's important to let go. Let them live and try not to be too overly protective – you know, swallow that lump of worry and try not to fret. Kids are still under construction, and it's important they have real life experiences.

So I do let my kids go to sleepovers and weekend camping trips. They can walk or ride their bike to school, play outside, and generally do most of the things I did growing up, with some exceptions to accommodate for this different day and age.

But this most recent experience of letting go is harder. One of my kids is going away this summer. To camp, far away, and for two weeks. As the time draws nearer, I can't help but think about how much I will miss her and how much I will worry. I'll worry if she packed everything she needs, if she's feeling OK, and if it's warm enough or too hot. I'll wonder if she's made friends and is having fun. I'll fret about whether she's eating well, if she took enough money, or if she experiences difficulties at the airport.

And I will celebrate when she comes home.

Ultimately, I know this is a good and tremendous growth experience for her and I am delighted she is going. And bottom line – I trust her and I know she has a good head on her shoulders.

I wish her a wonderful time!


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