This summer has marked a big turning point in our family, a summer full of new gained independence. When I was young I was walking across town by 6-7 years old, going to the park, heading to the store and was almost never at home… Things have definitely changed. Not that I believe that crime is up or that kids are less safe, but I believe that people keep to themselves more, communities are more closed, kids more controlled and there is less trust all over. Maybe it is just in my community, maybe it is more widespread, but I don’t see kids walking around alone much anywhere.
Around the end of last spring, Xavier started going on his own to the park.It is not far, it is pretty direct but he had never shown any interest before and I was just waiting for him. It was only for a few minutes and he was too nervous to stay too long but he went and came back quickly, and went a few times after that… however, when I would head to the park with the kids there were times that we would take other routes and he couldn’t get his bearings so I didn’t think that he was quite ready to explore much yet.
However, a few weeks ago he went out on his bike and stayed for a bit longer. I wasn’t worried, Xavier is quite cautious and in most of the things he does, he has trouble testing his own limits until he is completely comfortable that he can do something… (of course then there is no stopping him!)… then I get a bit more nervous…
When he came back, he told me about all the places he had gone… he explored the neighbourhood, went to the limits without crossing any of the big streets. My heart stopped for second… he had gone so far, he had explored so much. He found paths that lead between houses, and he had gotten lost and then found himself again, he saw where Simon takes the bus and then when he got home his mind was set on picking Simon up at the bus stop when he came home from work. There is a big street to cross… it was farther than I thought I would be comfortable with… but he explained the way perfectly and I swallowed my fears and let him go.
So he left….
and came back beaming next to Simon…
The next day,
Colin went with him.
Since then, Xavier and Colin, my 9-year-old and my newly 7-year-old, have headed out on their bikes or by foot, exploring the neighbourhood, meeting kids (well, before school started again) and on almost a daily basis they head out before supper and come back with Simon, Walking or biking the 3 km (1.8 miles) to go pick up their father…
It is hard to let go of some fears at times, but it is the only way to let them grow… and I am so happy that they are not only finding this new independence but there are gaining the confidence that comes with it.
How far do your kids go? How old are they?