This week, I made progress in letting go.
I let my eight and nine year old ride their bike and scooter around the block without me. Yes, I needed a glass of wine to get me through the first few times around, but I only yelled after them twice. “Be careful, and look both ways!”, thinking “I hope they’re ready for this!”
Off they went. As they turned the corner out of sight, I took a big gulp of the grape thinking, “I’m not ready for this!”
I know many of their friends’ parents are ahead of me by a year or two or three. I know that they need to start flapping their wings. They are starting to thrive with a little adventure, a taste of independence.
As Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege, said in a recent lecture, if you wait too long to let your children ride their bike around the block, they’ll be having sex before they’ve been around the neighborhood on a two-wheeler. Gasp! I am definitely not ready for this!
But I knew it was time. My very cautious nine year old fell off his bike at some point last summer and did not get back on his bike again until last week. It took a day for him to get comfortable again, but I watched him ride up and down our street looking very serious, listening to me shout out an occasional “good job”. Mom always there watching, offering encouragement. And I realized, seeing his serious face, that that might not be so fun.
And the day our nine year old learned to ride his bike was the last time I ever saw our eight year old on a bike with or without training wheels. It was as if, since he didn’t do it first, he was going to reject it completely. So, yelling encouragement to him as he finally started to pick up his foot and glide on his scooter, I thought that he too might need some inspiration.
So I took a deep breath and asked them if they wanted to try to go around the block.
“Sure,” I said, thinking “they still don’t look both ways when they cross the street!”
“Okay!” they both agreed.
Two days and many times around the block (and even a few more) alone, the nine year old is riding off curbs (unimaginable before) with a big grin on his face and the eight year old is back on his bike, with only turning left to conquer.
“How did it go?” I asked on their return.
“Great!” they smiled together.
Freedom. Independence. Achieving mastery on their own. That’s what makes them happy these days. Of course, knowing mom is close by, caring about how they do, is still important. But it is time to let go just a little bit.
They are ready. I guess I have to be too.