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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

One small step for a little man, one giant leap for his parents.


Our son is 11 and off to high school next year...After many practises of walking home, with him leading the way over the many roads and crossings, it finally came time to let him walk home by himself, while I took his brother to an appointment. He was pleased he could finally do it, being one of the last in his class allowed to.
However, I stressed about it all day (from 5 am!!), thinking all the unlikely but minutely possible terrible outcomes that could occur. Intellectually, I knew that I was being unrealistic, and that next year he'd have to cross roads and get buses as well, so better to start now and get him used to finding his way about, but I could not shake the nerves.
At 2.30, a friend rang to see if I could take his child that afternoon as he wouldn't make it to school on time and I was secretly relieved that my son would have company on his first unaccompanied trek. I rang my husband to let him know that Louis would be walking with our son, and how relieved I was that fate had helped me out with my anxiety, only to discover my normally sensible husband was equally worked up about it. Neither of us had expected the emotional intensity of something so simple as walking home from school.  We know we have to do it, but the 'letting go' is such a giant step for us parents.
I gave my son the key and off they went, without so much as a goodbye.  The journey on foot  takes 30 minutes and he was to ring me when he got in. At 3.30 on the dot, I rang home but no answer...I knew realistically that they'd still be walking home but in my mind ran all the 'he's been hit by a car' scenarios...3.35 he rang and all returned to normal in my head.
I explained later to my son that all the worry, and that we were slower than the other parents to let him do it, was not because we didn't trust him or because we didn't think he was responsible enough to do it, but because it was a huge step for us, his parents, to let go of one of our most precious things.  Thankfully he understood (and thought it was funny) and I am glad he knows it's more to do with us than him... I never realised how difficult it would be for me, and I see now a whole lot of much harder 'firsts' to come. Not to mention the same again with child 2 and 3....This parenting gig is much harder than I realised, the older they get, especially when the kids aren't around!



18 comments:

  1. My little one is only 6 and has asked many, many times to walk home. the answer is a flat out "no". apart from school being 15 minutes away by car - I can't bring myself to letting go - not yet and I would guess, not for a long time yet xx

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  2. I fear even letting my daughter downstairs to drop something in the bin (we live in an apt). We have a gate and really nothing would ever happen to her but I just have my heart in my throat, and yes, it's just me. I thought the way u explained your reasons to yr son was cool. (and his response). That's emotional intelligence for u parent style.

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  3. Oh goodness... I dread the day! But I guess when the time comes we have to let go (a little). Good job mumma!

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  4. I think that our first son and our last son will be the hardest to let go! I have no fear about walking home anymore because we are homeschooling our younger two and our older son is now in the Navy.
    Its the fear of something happening when I am away from my family (sometimes overnight) that still gets to me...which is silly because they are being looked after by my hubby (their Dad) or family. Makes no sense but its there still the same!
    Even when my oldest moved out of home I still had the "What If" :)

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  5. We have been thinking a lot about increasing the independence of our elder kids but it's so hard to let go. We have other issues to keep in mind too which just seems to mess with our heads more - good on you for letting go and giving him the independence that he was ready to take on. I love the explanation you gave him as well, Lydia!

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  6. Unless we move walking home won't be an option for Punky until she is quite old as there are no places to cross our road and its a very busy main road. But I hate to think if even just letting her get a bus on her own! It was hard enough leaving her for 2 nights this weekend with my sister and worrying if he would be ok. She was absolutely fine, like my head knew she would be but it was hard to convince my heart!

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  7. I know my parents never used to sleep until we were home safe and sound as teenagers! Parents never stop worrying I suppose x

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  8. I still remember the first time my brother and I strolled home from school together. I was in grade 6, he in grade 5. Mum was worried, I know but shit it was the bomb. We felt so grown up. It definitely gave me confidence to catch the bus for Yr 7 the next year. It will be interesting when the tables turn. Not for ages yet though...We will be out of town by the time my kids go to school and they'll be on the bus for sure...

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  9. I know that I'm going to be exactly the same when my son is that age. I wonder how my parents felt in an age without mobile phones!

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  10. No matter what stage or phase of parenting you are in, it is always the hardest. I remember when my middle child was accepted to the selective school 30 minutes drive away.

    It would mean two public buses and crossing a busy road to get to the second bus each afternoon. I was a nervous wreck and would walk the 20 minutes to meet the first bus and cross the road with her. One day, I was held up on the phone and then raced off in a panic, only to find her walking up the drive. Since then she has been making her own way home. Her younger sister also made the selective school this year, so she too is doing the trip. Of course they both finish at different times and rarely travel home together. My eldest is at another school as well but only the one bus home.

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  11. I think this is a great thing to be thankful for. As is the fact you are in a position for him to be able to walk home from school. Where we used to live it wasn't an option. I am so thankful it is now

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  12. Yes, the older they get, the harder it gets. I have only just started to allow my 16 and 14 year olds to walk home together. It's an hour's walk from the bus stop and there is a bushland to walk through too. I worry endlessly over them. That's the hard part of parenting the older ones.

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  13. Oh that's so sweet that your son understood, too!!

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  14. We've been working on this stuff with Gilbert as he heads to high school next year. He's been left at home alone for a short time but we haven't let him come home by himself. He's tried the bus with a mentor from Guide Dogs Australia but the trip takes way too long for him so he refuses to get on there now! Oh well. I'll just have to keep picking him up from school myself (while secretly relieved I don't have to let go JUST yet!)

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    1. My big one is BIG now and I still get worried when they don't turn up in a reasonable time (though it's much later and darker now!)

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  15. Letting children grow up is so hard. Good luck with all the new steps ahead to come!

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  16. We are frightful helicopter parents in this regard. Our 15 year old still gets picked up from school! Every time we think about changing this my husband brings up Daniel Morcombe... Anyway, next year the 12 year old starts high school, so they can start catching the bus. Safety in numbers! I hope... GULPS

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  17. Yes it is so hard. I didn't think our son would ever get to ride his bike to school without me accompanying him!

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