Fear Versus Freedom

 

There are many fears to tackle when you have children. First is to get the kid out of your body with no harm done. Then to raise them into toddlerhood from infants. From school-age child to teen. From teen and into young adult. It's a nail biting time, the worries about everything from poisons, to abductions, to illness surround a person when raising another one. I just finished a great book Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy (she has a great blog.) The author let her then nine year old son ride the subway home in NYC from Bloomingdale's alone and she was dubbed "America's Worst Mom" for it. The book helps us understand where our fears come from in terms of poisons, abductions, and the general unknown outside our front doors. Maybe things aren't so scary in the world. That it's okay to give your kids some freedom to be what they are...kids. To let them walk to Wendy's after school with friends, to let them play in the woods behind the house, to let them ride their bike to school. Yes, there are bad people in the world. The news is sure to tell us that. But I inherently believe most people are good. The homeless guy on the corner...good. The guy walking his Corgi everyday after work...good The lady at the fast food restaurant who cleans your tray away...good. I think I've always been a bit of a free-ranger. When I was just an aunt and my nephew and cousin would visit me, I would allow them to walk to Starbucks alone or to the corner store.  And that was in Chicago. They were teens. They knew where to go and I trusted them to come back in one piece. My own kids now are old enough to play in the woods behind our house without me. They take our dogs with them, two fifty pound beasts who love to bark. I trust them not to wander off the path and they know not to go with anyone they don't know. Zoe also goes into a local drugstore for me to buy stamps and mail envelopes. I wait in the car or am at the gas station just next door pumping gas when she does her job. She likes to do it. I let her take something back to the store shelf at Walmart that I've decided at the last minute I don't want to buy. My belief that something bad will happen to her while doing this is at 1% (there's always a small chance of something happening, probably that she'll trip over her own feet more than being abducted.) While there are many scary things to sit and ponder over that can happen to your child, I've already had to deal with the scariest thing of all. Disease. A disease that the parenting books don't warn you about. There's nothing to buy at Babies R Us to heed the warning about cancer coming your way and how to protect your child. My daughter has had the devil of all devils at her front door and she has fought back. The boogey man has not taken her from us. The world doesn't seem quite so scary now that we have lived through two years of poison that's been deliberately given to her.  Now that we have seen what could become of our daughter. To know other families who have lost their child to cancer. Now that we know what's really scary in the world. I am raising independent children. I don't want to hover over Zoe anymore than I have these last few years. So, I will continue to let her go into the drugstore alone. I may let her go into the grocery store to buy milk while I sit in the car balancing my checkbook. I will let her and her sister play in the cemetery, looking at the family headstones, the angel statues, and the beautiful flower displays. I have seen what's really dangerous in this world and we are not letting that put us into a shock. We are living our life with less fear of others. We live in fear of disease, but one thing is for sure. That "thing" is that she is going to live her life with a vengeance. A vengeance to be free.   

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