Thursday, May 15, 2014

Too Cool

"Hey Luke!  Rosie is smiling at you!" I said to my oldest son.  This usually delights him.  He will stop whatever he is doing, crouch down to her level and kiss her on the head.  He will talk to her and try to get her to laugh.  But this time it was different.

We were at my sister's house and he was trying his hand at Super Mario.  (We limit video games to the point that I sometimes feel bad for the kid. He eats it up whenever another family has a gaming system.)  His cousin had paused the game so we could eat a snack but my son kept staring at the screen.  "Luke, did you hear me, honey?" I asked.  He gave me a withering glance.  He wanted me to drop it.  "Yeah, I heard you," he said in a brand new tone of voice.  It was a voice that said, "I'm too old for this."  He gave a quick sideways glance to see if his cousin was, indeed, watching.  He was.  "Hey Brody - Let's play," he said.

I was almost too surprised to respond immediately so I gave myself some time to think about it.  It was such a striking difference from our usual interactions.  I started cataloging some of our recent interactions with his friends.  I remembered last week when I called him "stinky" in front of our 7 year old neighbor.  He had given me a quick glance then he grabbed his friend and headed outside.  I realized that he has stopped asking me to play when other kids come over and, instead, tries to find a place that's far away from me.  My son is suddenly cool.  And I am suddenly uncool.  And it started to hurt just a little bit.

As I explored this new feeling, I realized that they strive for independence from the moment they are born.  I have a baby that has gone from needing me almost every moment to one that sleeps through the night and wants to be put down to explore her world.  I have a toddler that has gone from needing me to do everything for him to one that wants to "do it myself".  So I shouldn't be surprised that my five year old is ready to take another step away from me.  But I am.  

I suppose we all have to remind ourselves that our job is to let them go.  Our job is to prepare them as best we can then let them go in to the world a little more each day.  If we do it right, they will be prepared.  If we do it right, they will feel confident about living their life fully and independently.  If we do it right, they will come to us when they fall.  And we will lift them up and send them right back into the world.

How can you let your children grow up without holding them back?

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