I subscribe to a blog called 'Free Range Kids'. The premise is that the world is not an evil place, all strangers are not molesters, and that maybe our parents were on to something when they sent us out to play unsupervised and told us to come home when it got dark. As I read this blog, I try to find ways that my kids can be more independant. Inside the house, that's a challenge as I am, admittedly, a bit controlling. I have a hard enough time letting go so Mr. Unwired (a grown man with pretty good judgement and the ability to find my misplaced cell phone every single time I lose it), can do the laundry. What exactly can I expect my six year old boys to do?
The answer is PLENTY. One used the bathroom by himself at a major league baseball game. He was so thrilled by his newfound freedom that he went 4 times in 3 innings :-). I'm teaching the boys to cross the street by themselves so they can visit our favorite neighbor. Little things.
Already, this new-found responsibility and good judgement has paid off. We went to a local farm to pick strawberries, about 30 miles away. While at the general store, we used the bathrooms, and then one of my kids walked outside the building, parallel to our course inside the building. At the next junction, he wasn't there. Mr. Unwired and I calmly looked for the child for about 5 minutes, before alerting the staff that we couldn't find him. Logically speaking, we knew he hadn't been kidnapped or anything, but where could he be? The staff hadn't read the blog and they went immediately into panic mode, which amped up our emotions. Realizing that this wouldn't help, I went towards the car to clear my head. And there was the missing child, standing next to the car, quietly waiting to be found. I hugged him, then walked back to the store to call off the dogs. I reminded Mr. Unwired to applaud the kids' thought process, and NOT to say that we were scared or worried for him. This was a victory for the kid, and I wanted him to revel in his good judgement, and not to be burdened with an illogical adult sense of fear and trepidation. I'm very proud of my boy... and I'm confident that he will always find his way home.