9 hours ago
Thursday, May 12, 2016
He just wanted to go for a walk
The other evening, our babysitter stayed a little late so I could run to Trader Joe's and pick up produce for the baby. I am newly obsessed with making Ben food, which is not something I did for Max or Sabrina when they were tots. But I'm working from home these days, so I basically have the time and no excuse. The only problem is the kids keep wanting to eat Ben's food. Max is newly in love with apricot purée, and Sabrina thinks pea purée is delish.
Max and Sabrina were playing on the deck. Or so I thought, because when I got to the car I found Max standing by the gate, fiddling with the latch so he could get out.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Walk," he said, matter-of-factly.
He meant, he wanted to take a walk. Meanwhile, I realized that two of his fingers were lodged in the latch and looked to be turning white. My fingers were too big to extract his from the space so I called for Sabrina and she came to Max's rescue.
"Max, you can't go for a walk right now, there's nobody to go with you," I said, rubbing his fingers. Which was true: The sitter was with Ben, and Sabrina was about to go inside and do homework.
"Awwwww," he said.
I felt awful. Max is of the age when he should be doing his own thing. This was the first time he'd expressed a desire to go out on his own, and I wasn't letting him.
I am not typically a helicopter parent. When it comes to Max, though, I know it isn't OK for him to walk around out of our eyesight. Sometimes, he trips over his feet or uneven pavement. Or he could decide to head over to the fire station, which is a good quarter mile away and involves crossing major streets. Also: Our neighborhood is plenty safe but, the truth is, there is no such thing as a completely safe neighborhood.
We are crossing into new territory with Max. He wants more independence, and together we have to figure out what that means so that all of us are comfortable. As always, I want him to feel confident in his abilities—in this case, the ability to be on his own. Except he still needs someone to watch him.
Meanwhile, I had to get to the grocery store.
"Max, this weekend you can go for a walk, OK?" I said. Usually Dave or I are by his side when we go out. I think we'll try trailing behind him and let Max take yet more steps toward independence.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:37 AM