Having kids is hard. I read once that having a child is like deciding to wear your heart on the outside of your body all the time and it is so true!
When I was a preteen, my parents wouldn’t let me go around the (rather large) block on my own. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just allow me that bit of freedom and it kind of made me grumpy. Now that I have kids of my own, I know exactly how they felt and I sometimes wonder if I’ll manage to give my kids as much freedom as my parents gave me. What seemed restrictive back then is suddenly very much the opposite when I look at stories of children being kidnapped or dying when out of sight of their parents.
Dorian has always been crazy independent. I suspect this is partly his personality and partly his way of dealing with his major dependence on his parents due to medical issues. When he was barely three, Irving left the street door open and when we realized, the boys were both gone. It was a terrifying moment of realizing that my babies had disappeared! They showed up a few minutes later with cookies in their hands. Dorian had taken Dante to the bakery down the street to get some sweet breads on credit. (“My papa will pay you later,” he told the girl at the bakery.)
That wasn’t his first or his last escape and he usually took Dante along on his escapades. One involved the in-laws sending him home with Dante and leaving the house without realizing that a three year old Dorian and two year old Dante didn’t listen, but opened the street door and went to the bus to find their papa who was working. I didn’t even know the in-laws weren’t with them until the neighbor called me to let me know that two girls from down the street had found the boys several blocks away at the bus stop and brought them home!
After a couple of these escapades, it occurred to us that Dorian might not be so inclined to head out on his own if he was able to do it “legally.” So we started sending him for the lunch tortillas, directly across the street. He thought he went alone, but really, someone was always watching from the door, ducking away when he came out of the tortilla place. As he got older, we let him go on his own for real. One day, he took an extraordinary amount of time to return and we asked him about it when he got back. “Oh, there was a line and none of the tortillas were ready, so I just went to the other place at the end of the street.” A block away. We told him not to do that again without telling us.
The fact is that Dorian has always been quite independent. These days, his independence is fueled by buying the bread when we need it, down the street, or getting the tortillas. In fiestas, the older boys now ask to go off on their own to get cotton candy or play ball with friends. I still keep a close eye on them, but I do try to let them have more freedom.
No one ever told me it would be THIS scary to be a mom. Despite the terror of letting my children grow up, I know it’s necessary to let them do things on their own, make their mistakes and figure out how to problem solve on their own. It’s hard, but I know it will stand them in good stead later in life.