This morning DH told our girls, Kid 1 and Kid 2, about how he walked across the street when he was four years old and introduced himself to the four-year-old boy visiting his grandma: “Hi. I’m John. I’m 4. Wanna play?”
When I was little we’d finish breakfast, run out the door, which always slammed despite Mom’s ‘don’t slam the door!’, and hopped on our bikes for adventures unknown. Sometimes we’d collect bottles and take them to the back of the mom-n-pop store for two cents each or a pretzel stick. Sometimes we’d play in the park a block away, climbing the giant sliding board, the monkey bars, the swings. Sometimes we’d play football with the boys, or baseball, or wiffle ball, or with Matchbox cars, building elaborate tunnels and structures in the dirt. We went home when called for lunch, then we were back out again.
Summers were a bit different. We’d wake, have breakfast and hop on our bikes to the swim club where we had swim team practice at 7:30 a.m. We had another practice at 4 p.m., so we stayed the entire day at that pool, swimming, goofing off, playing tennis, working on our tans, falling in love with little boys on the swim team.
I’m sure she did, but I cannot remember my mother giving any of it a second thought. We were out the door nearly the entire day. She worked at the post office, so we kept in touch, but her three kids were on autopilot most of the time.
Can’t say I operate the same way. Today I called the Mom up the street to let her know 7-year-old Kid 2 was on her way, via scooter, to play with her daughter. I waited at the end of our driveway and watched as Kid 2 scooted toward fellow Mom up the street at the end of her driveway. We waved to each other, and were certain that the boogeymen that lived between us would not harm the precious cargo en route.
It’s a shame it has to be that way, but it does. Even if we hear about it once, it’s too often that we learn of some dungeon in a home, or hole in a yard where a child was tormented to death. I don’t want to learn via the local news how unbelievable it is that someone so nice would be capable of such evil. For that reason, you have to put your guard up no matter who or what when it comes to your kids.
I’m a real Mama Bear. I had no idea how strong a maternal bond could be until I became a mother. I sometimes tell single or childless women that I was actually impressed with my ability to love. It’s almost scary. And it isn’t limited to my own kids. I see a child getting a whack or picked on and I so want to protect them.
Kids aren’t angels. They’ve got the capacity to pick on each other, to make their sibblings miserable, a skill perfected over the decades. As we become adults, we learn to control those impulses children get away with. As parents, we teach ourselves, as we teach our children, that the wisest choices are those that result in the greatest good. We don’t always like them, but we don’t stomp and pout about the result. We move on to life’s next lesson. It’s called growing up.