Let It (THEM) Go!
Ok. This is NOT about the song. And I do apologise if I got you humming it again!
This is about when do you let your children be on their own. I’m not referring to moving out of your home. I’m not referring to going off to college. I’m not even referring to walking home from school or bus stop!
This is the situation:
Enrichment school is at Level 3 of this building along a busy main road in town
It’s 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning
Absolutely NO parking. Not even illegally.
The child is 7 year old
What would you do?
In the past, I would park two streets away, and walk the kid over, right to the doorstep of this enrichment school. Recently, I started feeling, perhaps Nathan can go up on his own. He’s a boy, for goodness sake. And it’s broad daylight. And there are many parents going in and out, as there are many enrichment centres housed in this building.
I started thinking, sooner or later my kids would need to walk to the store alone to buy something. They would need to cross the street on their own. And surely they would need to take the public bus on their own! But when??
Nicole who is 9, is already asking when she can take the bus home on her own. She’s VERY confident she won’t get lost, she won’t talk to strangers, and she won’t dash across the street without looking. I did let her go for enrichment on her own when she was 8. And that was at the later half of the year.
Nathan is 7. (yup, that’s the one in the situation above) He isn’t asking to be independent yet. But he’s one confident boy, who is quite sharp.
Nadine is 6. Well, simply because of her age, I’m definitely not so ready to let her go yet.
So when do we let go? I discussed it with the husband. He feels for coming home alone from school, they have to be at least 12! (I thought that’s really quite old!, yet I can’t put down when is more apt!)
Back to the simple task of dropping of your child for enrichment. Would you? For a 7 yr old?
Confession: I did it last Saturday. It was drizzling, the parking was impossible as usual. And we were late for class. And I made the decision when I left home! For the next 15min, I told Nathan I would be dropping him off just in front of the building. All he needs to do is to use the escalators to get up to Level 3 (NO lifts, still too scary for me if he gets in with a stranger… escalators are exposed, so it’s good!!)
When we were nearing the building, I told him get ready. Nicole was in the car. Even she sensed this was a milestone. She shouted out LOVE YOU NATHAN when he got out of the car. And that’s it.
He got out, quickly ran into the building and I had to drive off. (Main road, remember?)
It was a non-event of course. And I feel a little silly even as I type this post. Yet, I knew that was a milestone. For me. The parenting journey is also one of letting go at the right time. I think I passed this one!
Is Letting Go a big part of your parenting journey too?
I think it totally depends on how well your child knows the environment. I have no problem dropping off my 5 year old at school instead of walking her up to the playground (though 90% of the time I walk her up) but if it was an unfamiliar building I wouldn’t.
Oh boy, that’s a hard one. I guess it depends on their level of maturity and ability to handle the responsibility appropriately and not wander off where they shouldn’t.
Last year, I started allowing all my kids to walk into school alone. My youngest was in Kindergarten and my oldest at that school was in 6th grade. I could park in the lot and watch them walk in. I’m trying really hard to allow my children to develop some independence and this was my stepping stone for that. I think it’s been harder for ME.
I’m already thinking of those days and remember when my mom would let me walk to school by myself, but I can’t see me ever being ready for this moment with my two girls.
I definitely agree that it would vary with the child. Some children are so much more mature than others. I was able to start staying at home by myself after school when 6th grade began ( at almost 11) and started babysitting for short periods not long after.
I have a terrible time letting go. My kids are only 2 and 5, and I already know this will be a HUGE issue for me…. where did my babies go?!
OK, my first thought was about the song. You KNOW how I feel about that song LOL
I applaud your milestone! It can be so tough to let go, and to trust in knowing when it is time.
I still walk Superkiddo into the building, and back to the car. Most parents just pull into the carpool lane. Maybe we will get to that point next school year, but for now, we enjoy the few extra seconds of hugs and jokes.
Now I need to listen to something to get that blasted song out of my head 🙂
This is a tough situation! You have to pick just the right time. By the way, I probably mentioned this, but I love your new blog design!
I don’t think there’s one perfect answer for that at all. Each child is so unique in readiness!
That’s a milestone indeed… 7 yo… I think my husband will say 12 too… Haha.
It is very hard to do. I kinda agree with your husband that age 12 is good.
What a total milestone. My 8 year old has been asking when he can stay home alone while I go grocery shopping. I’m no where near ready for that yet.
That is really a hard question for me. There is a lot to be said for knowing your child – it is possible that one child is ready to do something at 7 while another isn’t ready until they are 10.
I say that you need to trust your gut. As a mom, you know when it is right.
I’m not sure when I thought it was okay to let our daughter do even quick things alone (she’s nearly 18 now so it’s been awhile). I think now a days with cell phones where kids can check in instantly with parents it’s perhaps not quite as scary as it once was. I know even though in 12 days mine will ‘officially’ be an adult, I still am uncomfortable with letting her stay alone or go places on her own. I think it’s just a “mom” thing.
It is hard to know when to let go. My kids are older and driving now and I still have trouble knowing how much responsibility is too much!
I’m not sure when my husband and I decided that our kids could begin to do things alone. We lived on a very busy street when they were younger and it always made me nervous. They were probably 7-9ish when we’d allow them to run down to the gas station a block or so away so they could buy a snack cake before walking home. We homeschooled so they were with me all the time. That small act of independence was good for them and a confidence builder. They needed to know they could do some things without us.
indeed a tough call… we all know it’s sooner or later.. yet… it’s so difficult to know when.. argh.. am not looking forward to it !
I guess my mum was a little more adventurous with us. My brother started going to school on his own at 7 (yes, second day of school) but he was a really smart boy and matured for his age. I only started traveling on my own at 9, back and forth from school and to my parent’s office. Thinking back, I truly wonder where did all that courage came from. Haha
Yes, letting go is hard but necessary.