Earlier this week we were all outside. The kids were playing basketball. Well, maybe playing isn’t the right word.
“Mommmm, she won’t share.”
“Little Girl, share.”
“No, it’s my turn.”(Scuffling and pushing ensues.)
“Girls, stop it. Big Girl, just let her play with it for another two seconds.”
(Said dramatically) “No, it’s my ball. Besides, I never get to play basketball because you don’t let me come outside by myself and you’re always WORKING!”
Sigh. She pulled the always working card. Sigh. She exaggerates, of course. I am not always working. Yes, I work during the week, but at least I am here at home where I can sneaks bits and bites of time with them. For example, I pick up Little Girl from school and take Big Girl off of the bus when she gets home. Then I spend a nice half hour or so with the girls between when the bus comes and the sitter gets here. I usually stop working around 6 unless I am on a heavy deadline.
Oh, and there are some days where I have no sitter. On those days I take the girls to the park or let them play upstairs together while I do something less concentration-intensive. And then there are the days when I get to be Girl Scout leader or religion teacher. I’m definitely not working then.
Still, I guess an 8-year-old might see my schedule as a busy one. As for the first part of her lament: She’s right. She’s not allowed outside alone. She’s not. Even though I can remember riding around the corner alone at her age, I don’t let either kid out of my sight for more than two seconds. Does that make me a helicopter parent? Maybe. But the alternative makes me too anxious.
I didn’t say anything to her when she said what she said. I waited until I was alone with my husband and I brought it up to him. He sees both sides, he says. But he also says I need to give my kids — at least the big one — a little more trust and freedom.
Today I took Big Girl off the bus and we didn’t event go inside. I took her backpack and told her we were hanging outside. They were so happy. The kids played ball. Big Girl had her basketball. Little Girl had a blow up globe that she got as a birthday party favor. I sat there on the stoop holding the dog’s leash. Periodically, I yelled for the little one to stay away from the street.
The whole time, though, I was thinking. How could I balance my fear of the unknown, of the worst, with wanting to give my children more freedom? Sitting there looking at their young, innocent faces I realized that I have no intention of letting the big one go outside all by herself and play on our front lawn. It’s just too scary for me. Maybe we’ll start in the back.