Monday, September 28, 2009
Babying our kids vs. giving them independence
It's a line Dave and I walk all the time with Max.
In some ways, Max still needs to be treated much younger than his six years of age and yet, we're so eager to encourage him to do things by himself. Lately, he's been chomping at that bit.
—He needs help being fed, yet he really wants to do it and gets THE biggest grin on his face when he finishes a bowl of food on his own. Especially if it's a bowl of chocolate ice-cream.
—He needs to be helped up the jungle gym at the park, but insists on roaming the platform there alone.
—He needs help lifting up his heavier trucks, but wants to arrange them on his own. He has this thing about keeping them all lined up. Now, if only I could get him to keep my files in order.
—He needs help blowing bubbles—he hasn't yet mastered breathing out—but snorts through his nose and makes it work.
This weekend, we went to the beach. There was an indoor pool with a hot tub at the place where we were staying, and Max was having a blast scooping up the foam from the hot tub and dumping it into the pool. I was letting him do his thing, and turned away literally for two seconds. When I turned back, I watched, horrified, as he leaned a little too far over and fell right into the deep end of the pool. In an instant I was at the edge, leaning over to grab him as the lifeguard jumped in. Max was under water for maybe four seconds.
He came out cracking up; I was weak-kneed. And horrified that I'd done what you're never supposed to do, turn your back on a kid at a pool. Let alone a kid who lacks the judgment not to lean too far over the edge or balance himself or even understand what it means to fall into the deep end.
Max needs his independence. I want to give him that independence. But I can't let my yearnings to let him roam free imperil his safety, especially in situations like this.