Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Growing Pains

Yesterday I read in the newspaper that a two year old boy drowned in the Osage, Iowa swimming pool.  He got into the Lazy River and no one noticed.  A tragedy. His mother was not in the water with him.  While I try VERY hard not to judge others' parenting, this has got to give one pause. A two-year old in a pool without a parent.

The sad thing is that this not an anomaly - I've been taking my kids to the pool in town almost every night.  I've seen this - parents with the philosophy that it is the lifeguard's job to keep the kids safe in the water.  Certainly this conviction would be cold comfort at your child’s funeral. 

But, I am not going to use this blog to rail on inadequate parents - that's not my responsibility (until I get them into the courtroom).  Instead, this incident started me thinking about my own comfort levels with supervision, or lack thereof, of my own kids. 

We live in a small town.  A REALLY small town.  The kind of place where (some) kids walk to the pool, spend all day there, and walk home - alone; where (some) kids ride their bikes all over town -alone.  Basically, the kind of town that I grew up in - riding my bike to the pool and around town alone.  

B wants to be like those kids.  He wants to be dropped off at the pool so he can play with his friends.  He wants to be left there alone when his sister wants to leave early.

This summer, he tried to sneak his bike out of the garage and go for a ride with friends. Umm... NO. (I'm not going to harp on the fact that the friends are 7 year old boys from down the street who ride their bikes all over town unsupervised...) 

I'm thinking to myself, now, when WILL I think he's old enough to do these things without adult supervision?? Honestly, probably never.  But that's not realistic - or fair to him. And so, the struggle what point do I cross the line from being the "smart, safe, responsible Mom" to being the "crazy, overprotective" Mom?  

B is almost 9.  Last year, at the end of the school year, he got to walk to school alone.  I wasn't entirely comfortable with it, but you can literally see the school from our house and watch the entire walk from the front porch. (a few times, at first, I followed him in the car!)  He walks with a large group of kids, usually, and I think I am okay with it – I might even go on to work before I see him enter the school yard.

He's a good swimmer.  He goes all over the pool and I've never seen him struggle in the water.  I know that many of the kids in his grade (and younger!) go to the pool alone...but I'm THERE - I've seen the lifeguards and, with all due respect to the pool, they suck!  They are more interested in looking cool in their red suits and flirting with each other than in actually watching the pool. So, no confidence, whatsoever, that B would be entirely safe if I wasn't there to watch... 

Last spring, a girl on a bicycle (B's age) didn't stop and drove right into the street.  She actually hit my boss's car at the end of my block.  B watched her be taken away by ambulance. The good news is she was okay.  The bad news is that is cemented in my mind - my son will probably not get to ride his bike around town until he's old enough to drive! 

I’m not ready to let him go into the world alone, yet. And I don’t think he’s ready to go alone.  I guess I’ll start worrying about whether I’ve crossed the line into “crazy, overprotective mom” when I’m sitting in the back seat on his first date! 

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