Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Yet, sometimes my biggest lesson is in moving a few rows back

It is the way of the world as we know it. This quick passage of time. Speeding up incrementally as we age, to go at warp speed when we become parents. It happens in moments, an overnight awareness. Seeing a friend's child after a seemingly few short weeks, morphed into long gangly legs or sporting a missing tooth. A haircut that shows your child's face in a fresh light... formerly soft, rounded cheeks replaced by a new angularity.

We get so caught up in life, our daily tasks and social engagements, that it almost seems that we are time traveling to the future. Yet, no...we are here, in this moment which has come upon us so "suddenly."

BOY let go of his training wheels this past weekend. E patiently spent time working with him Saturday morning, and by the time I returned from running a few errands he was on two wheels. The highlight for BOY was wiping out into the grass of the front lawn. But... it was on Sunday afternoon, when we went to the Rose Bowl parking lot, that he took off. One helping push from dad and he was gone...pedaling as if he had been doing it for weeks. GIRL and I stood, watching, our mouths agape. It was beautiful and bittersweet to watch him pedal away from us. A new era. A big step. And so he learned to brake, and stop. It is the starting that is his challenge. He wants that bit of a touch and a push, that connection ...as he ventures out, into his new world atop two wheels.

GIRL's hunger for learning knows no bounds. She has almost mastered writing the entire alphabet, and has become interested in addition and subtraction. Little paper sheets with math problems, which arrived in the form of a gift. Her ballet teacher, whom she adores, gave them to her because each sheet has a Disney Princess on it. GIRL treasured the papers for a while, keeping them in her ballet bag. A gift from a teacher she believes hangs the moon. Yet, she has little interest in the Princess aspect. Instead, the intrigue is in the numbers and what it all means. So, completely self-directed, she approached both E and I with the math problem sheets wanting to know how to do them. And then, one by one, she did them with a little help. Very little help. I am in awe of her brain. And her focus and determination.

I learn so much from my children. I have a reserved front row seat into their lives. Yet, sometimes my biggest lesson is in moving a few rows back. Giving them the freedom to dance, frolic and jump just out of my reach. They understand that I am here if they need me. Yet, they need to know that they can risk stepping out into the world for a moment. And that awareness is everything. Especially when they run back into my arms with a fresh confidence. There's a knowingness about them. Something important that they have accomplished on their own.

Just as we can't teach a baby to walk, and we must let our children wobble away from us, we need to allow our children the freedom to fall. And when we do that, and are in the moment, we can grasp that bit of time that is so elusive and slippery. That turns our baby, who needs us for everything, into our little boy flying across an open space on two wheels, gleefully chanting to himself...I want to GO FASTER, and FASTER!! And our littlest baby, who clung like a monkey and stared pensively at each stranger to the point of discomfort...for the stranger? Our youngest child, who is embracing drop-off play dates, and venturing out into the world. She who looks ahead to her next ballet recital with excitement, shouting to her brother...BOY, I can't wait to be on the stage! Yes. Her. She needs her freedom, too.

And so...the adventures continue.

Sculpture titled: Time to Let Go by Verna Bartnick.

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  1. I got a few goose bumps reading this. So exciting to see their gifts emerge.

  2. Beautiful post, JCK! Took me back to my first nanny job, when the little girl was learning to ride her bike. She had a love/hate relationship with that darn bike. I once watched her ride it directly into the back of a neighbor's parked minivan! (In front of half the neighborhood). She was more humiliated than hurt, but I made her get back on the next day and she took off!

  3. Knowing you've taught them what they need to know to confidently venture a little further from you is the best, and most bittersweet, part of parenting. :)

  4. The joy of watching them is worth the difficulty of letting go.

  5. Oh, you're so right, JCK.

    I've often thought motherhood is amazing that way, that we invest the time and teaching and emotional energy to have our kids triumph, and that it's never meant to be our triumph, but theirs alone.

    It's great to hear how yours are growing in new ways.

    Have a very happy Mother's day, friend.

    - Julia at Midwest Moms

  6. Good news: learning to ride a bike is an important developmental milestone. It means a lot of things are in place that enable lots of other types of learning to occur.

  7. Big moments!

    This seems to be a lesson that I've had to learn more than once.

    Lovely writing.

  8. Ditto to Sexy. :O

    This was so beautiful in so many ways.

  9. thank you for reminding me to learn from my children.

  10. You are so right. That balance between front row seats and sitting a few rows back... each step is an uncertainty. Like life. Congrats on the newest two-wheeler in your house!


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