We recently celebrated Independence Day at our house. Not the July 4th variety, but more of the “see ya, Mom! I’ll take it from here!” kind. (Insert maternal panic and dread).
My preschooler finally discovered two-wheeled joy. She strapped on her helmet and with more confidence than I can usually muster, coasted down the driveway and pedaled her way to four-year-old freedom.
The training wheels are off and she could not be prouder of herself. To my littlest, this new accomplishment means there is just one less thing separating her from her big sister and brother. To her anxious mother, it means another opportunity for stitches, broken arms and busier trails and roads.
Meanwhile, my newly minted 10-year-old found his own kind of liberation —the electronic sort, thanks to us upgrading his hand-held device to include internet access (albeit, with certain parental restrictions). And yet, even with all the obvious limitations imposed, I am nervous. What happens if he innocently searches YouTube or the internet for Legos and makes a spelling error; who knows what website will pop-up? Oh, how I wish there was a helmet equivalent for an iTouch.
Truly, we never even thought he would save enough money to buy one of those crazy gadgets. Lesson learned.
And yet, in both kids’ cases I am trying to be calm and cool. It is fine for me to be overwrought by anxiety but I want my kids to suspect nothing. I know once they smell my fear, like a great white shark, they will immediately become curious—to ride that bike too fast or too far, to Google all the wrong words and images.
Whatever I preach against, they will surely gravitate toward.
I have already been down the biking road twice before, so I know there are plenty of skids and scrapes and wipe-outs ahead for my little Armstrong. And so I have stocked up on band-aids and ice packs. Whew—one anxiety eased with a quick trip to Target.
But what of my oldest?
This technological freedom, however meager, is new territory for us all. Or is it? He will certainly Google words I wish he wouldn’t but is that different from when my elementary friends and I looked those same words up in the old-fashioned dictionary (you know, the one with real pages) or giggled at the naked pictures in National Geographic?
To say nothing of when someone brought her big sister’s copy of Judy Blume’s "Forever" to school (with the good parts underlined!). It makes this Catholic girl blush just thinking about it. Talk about an education.
I guess the big difference is this is my baby who’s doing the exploring and growing up. And there isn’t anything I can stock in my first aid kit to fix those wounds (his and mine) so we will continue to tread carefully and watch our step. Stay tuned to see how well we navigate this road.