Like a parental creep, I just watched my eleven year old run down the block. By most standards, this wouldn’t be considered strange. What is strange, by my own acknowledged standards, is that I watched him like a hawk, nervously surveying him dash down two whole blocks, waiting til he curved the corner… actually stepping down my porch like a slinking tip toeing gawking stalker. I then eyed the middle aged woman runner trotting down my block, all coy in her incognito gray hoodie and lulu lemon shorts, a little too suspiciously. The blue minivan that drove a little too slowly according to my wary, worry wart standards.
As I closed the front door with a sigh, I wondered how the hell my parents did it. I’ve had this conversation countless times, but seriously. How?
I remember zipping like an unripened flimsy bean, a speeding bullet atop my ten speed along the Kennedy Park pathway. Strung upside down from one of the goal posts that cradled each side of the grassy field, strands of sweaty hair swinging in way of the breeze. Constructing forts in abandoned fields along side the Rockwell rail road tracks. Zip lines from the fort peak, at the very least thirty feet from the unforgiving ground. Unsupervised.
Ok. Different times we live in these days. Only goes so far. I would be gone for hours.
As a matured adult and present parent, there are two ways this could go.
- My parents didn’t care if I lived or died. Really. They had six. What’s one more kid? Three girls, three boys… a middle child? What’s the worry? Really. One less dermatologist’s bill.
Funny thing is, knock on wood, I never broke a bone. Never sprained a finger. I never even needed stitches until I was 30, the day I fell off my back deck face first, minutes before my son’s 5 year old birthday party, but by that time, my dad’s insurance plan was 12 years freed from me and my injuries.
- My parents, whether consciously or not, did something right.
To escape severe psychological trauma, weighing out the two, this is the preferred option. Now, in retrospect I think… Did my parents stress about who I hung out with? Absolutely. Did I get whooped if I wasn’t in by the designated time? 100%. Did I see my parents freak out, paranoid, or stressing? Never. Not once. Did I fear or stress, become paranoid or feel weary of my surroundings or safety? Never. not once. I was fearless.
I mirrored my parents’ strength. Their assurance was reassurance enough for me.
I thought about this, as I closed the door and waited an hour for Michael to dash his way two blocks back home.