boy, bike, block, bind

I’ve been struggling to remember recently when we gave the Bee certain freedoms, as the Potato has been on the march for more independence. The main thing he wants to do (at least this week) is to be able to ride his bike around the block by himself. He’s allowed to go around the block with his sister, but she’s not always interested in riding with him.

I remember well the first day that I let the Bee go around the block by herself. I sat on the porch, pretending to read a magazine and looking at my watch every 15 seconds. I had decided to give her ten minutes to accomplish the task–not because we live on a big block, but because I know that the brain of a small kid is easily distracted by pretty rocks and interesting leaves. She made it back safely (and inside the ten minutes), and I started breathing again.

But was she four? five? I can’t remember.

I’m sure if I ask her, she’ll be able to tell me–the Bee has never been one to relinquish the memory of a hard-won victory. But in a way, I don’t want to remind her about it, because then she’ll insist that the same rule must apply to him.

We’re starting to walk that delicate balance between being fair to her and respecting the things she’s achieved, and acknowledging that maybe we were over-protective the first go-round about that kind of thing. At this point, I can’t imagine waiting till the Potato is five to let him go around the block–the kid isn’t even four yet, and he’s constantly outside. I think that bike might become part of him by the end of the summer.

Some of it has to do with their different personalities, of course. The Bee is a clingy kid, while the Potato is more confident in new situations, in part because he has his big sister blazing a path for him. As soon as we all got home tonight, the two of them ran down the block to play with some friends without even coming in the house–that’s not something she would have done at 3. But he knows it’s okay to do it, because he’s got his big sister with him.

Like every parent, I struggle with how much independence to give my kids, how to balance my need to know they’re safe with the reality that I can’t always know that they’re safe. And that I have to be okay with not knowing, or I’ll go crazy.

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April 23, 2007. growing up, thoughtful parenting. 9 comments.