Two man-made lakes, landscaped with beautiful trees and flowers, sit in the middle of our development. As you can imagine, the mile-long paved pathway around the lakes is a magnet for dog walkers, joggers, bikers, strollers. It’s lovely to have the lakes in our neighborhood and to me, they are the shining point of our development.
That being said, I’m a nervous wreck when the boys are near the lakes.
Historically, my best bet for making it around the lakes with my sanity in check was to pull the boys in their two-seater wagon. At least they were contained and I had some control. But sooner than I’d hoped, they grew big enough that when they crammed into the wagon they were forced to rest their chins on their knees. Suddenly, I was pulling over a hundred pounds around the lake and we looked ridiculous. I had to retire the wagon and my semblance of control.
So if we wanted to walk the lakes, we had to do just that – walk. For a million reasons, I never enjoyed walking the boys around the lake. Mostly because a mile is a long way around with two little kids. We’d make it halfway and someone would be tired, hot, cold, hungry, bored, whatever. And they’d either be painfully sloooowww or way too fast. No leisurely strolls for us. Either I was running to catch them or dragging them behind me. Yelling was often involved. “Let’s go!” “Slow down!” “Wait for mommy!” “Don’t eat the dirt/snow/flowers!”
And the lakes? They’re full of water! With two little boys and only one me? What if they both fall in at the same time? What if they run off the path and I can’t catch them and they get to the street and get hit by a car? What if there’s a sexual predator lurking in the bushes? What are they wearing in case they get kidnapped? What if I drop dead, leaving the boys to cry and wander the lake on their own forever and ever? What if we pass out from heat exhaustion? Hypothermia? Did I bring water? Sunscreen? My phone? Bugs! Ticks! AHH! **
A few weeks ago, JC and I went for a walk and strolled the lakes. I had some thoughts and snapped this picture:
When JC approached the water, my first instinct was to yell at him to get away from the edge. So I did. “Not too close!” I screamed. JC, being the feisty eleven-year-old he is, ignored me. Then I realized.
He knows how to swim. If he falls in, he’ll be okay.
He’s loud as all heck and he knows about stranger danger. If a predator jumps out of the bushes, he’ll scream and together, JC and I can fight.
He knows our neighborhood. If he wanders away, he’ll meet me back home.
He has a phone in his pocket. If he wanders away and manages to get lost, he can call.
If he’s hot, he’ll take off his fleece. If he’s cold, he’ll . . . well, be cold. He can deal with (some) things on his own.
I also realized that it’s nice to look out over the lake. I can take my eyes off him and check it out and he won’t disappear. He can be fifty feet away from me and I don’t have to panic.
Don’t get me wrong – I won’t necessarily relax. Maybe, being a parent, I’ll never truly relax again. But I don’t have to panic, either.
I’m slowly learning to give the boys a little freedom. They’re not going to be kids forever. It goes by quickly. JC is eleven! He’s been around more than a decade! If I keep panicking in his presence, I’ll screw him up. Every parent hopes they aren’t the ones to screw up their kids! Not only that, but I’ll miss out on enjoying him and, in some ways, my own life.
I don’t want to miss out on the good stuff, so I’ll try to contain my overprotectiveness. No promises that I won’t slip into panic mode now and again, but I’ll try not to make panicking the default.
That’s all I wanted to say. Tomorrow on Mother’s Day and every day after, I wish you all panic-free peace with your children. Thank you for reading and have an enjoyable weekend.
** These thoughts may sound crazy to some of you more laid-back parent people, but in my defense, JC did lose control of his bike a couple years back and ended up flying down the hill right into the lake! Thank god I wasn’t there because I’d probably have a heart attack on the spot. My husband fished him, and the bike, out of the water and everyone was fine. Slimey, wet, and miserable, but fine.