Over the summer, Bea attended a free park camp program that our seaside city offers within a short walk from our house. The first week, I was home doing chores while the other two were playing and my newly turned 10 year old came walking down the driveway by herself. I will be honest in saying that it was not a stellar moment as a mother, because my friends, I freaked out. I freaked out because she walked by herself. In the end of my irrational worrying, which to be frank, pissed Bea off, I realized I was doing more damage than good. I could not understand why she was so mad until she said, "Mum, I'm 10. I'm fine. Trust me." Ahh...yes. She was right. She is 10 and I didn't trust her. But how on earth do I explain to her that it is not her I mistrust, but the entire world around her that makes me sick with worry...without terrifying her. As I let her walk back by herself, on my feed, an article in The Atlantic popped up about the damage we are doing to our kids by instilling so much fear into them about the world. Thank you, universe for that one. By me freaking out that she walked home by herself told her she was not capable, I did not trust her, and the world is a scary place. Yes, the latter may be true, but statistically, kidnappings have not increased since the 1980s, the media coverage, however has. We are living in this bubble of fear, unable to trust anyone, and rather than come together as a community to support and watch out for one another, we close our front doors, pull the shades and become isolated. There is no community watch, we don't know our neighbors names, and it does feel scary at times. However, in my life, I've met the most interesting people by opening my door, waving out the window, and overcoming fear to seek out community. I want my kids to do the same and they can't do that if I don't give them the freedom to do so.
But, it is hard. It is hard to let them ride around the neighborhood on their bikes without having terrible visions of them being taken or hit by a car. It is hard to let them walk to the mailbox without thinking about some creepy stranger enticing them with candy. Oh, and the guilt; the feeling of utter shame if something did indeed happen, its maddening, my friends. But, anything can happen anywhere. It takes work and quite a bit of rescue remedy. And lots of reminding them of what is safe and not safe--to the point of eye rolls and sighs, "yes, mum, we know." There are times my worry is choking but more than anything, what stops my endless mind chatter, is the desire for them to not fear life, but fully embrace it. I can't do that behind a locked door or closed curtains. It is not my job to shelter them, it is my job to support them, even when it rips my heart out. I don't want my kids to ever feel like I doubt their judgement, their character, or their instincts. Intuition cannot develop if it is not tested. It is one of the most powerful tools we have as humans and I refer to it as the superpower of our heart to the kids. Trust your superpower. Trust my superpower that under all that worry is great pride for these 3 amazing beings I share my life with. I love them too much to let my own misgivings affect their life. They are itching for freedom, to feel the giddiness of flight on solo bike rides without their mum behind them and the wide world ahead of them. Okay, not the whole world, but the neighborhood block, but it starts, somewhere, my friends.