Today I'm piggy backing on a friend's blog. She wrote a great post about independence and children. Basically, she's thinking about how things have changed, why, and is it really a good thing? I'm stealing her idea but it's something I've been thinking about for awhile. Maybe because Umberto is nine, and he's starting to want some more freedom. Maybe it's because I live in a neighborhood where kids run wild like I used to when I was nine. And while I did run like that I still find myself a bit aghast when the eight year old is riding his bike down the Plaza at nine o'clock at night.
And yeah I did run wild. In the summer, we would get up early, eat breakfast (which we prepared for ourselves) and then we were gone. We'd come in sometimes to eat some lunch or we'd just hit up on a friend's mom. Sometimes we'd not come until nine or even ten. We rode our bikes all over the town. Miles and miles. And I was doing that from about the time I was seven. But I'd rather die than let Umberto, who is 9, ride around on his bike. Now yeah some of it is that I lived in Skowhegan, Maine which is not Charlotte, NC. Nor was my neighborhood a place where it was common to hear gun shots as we do here. But I have asked myself if I'd even be willing to let Umberto live this life in Maine? I honestly don't know.
But we have been trying to give Umberto more independence. He needs it. At school, his teachers all have the same comment: "Umberto needs to take more imitative. He needs to be more independent in the classroom. More confident." And I suspect this comes from us not letting him be nine. At least not nine in the way both H and I were nine. I'm not willing to give him that kind of freedom (H has told me some horror stories about his youth) but I am realizing I need to give him something more.
So the other day when my mom called to ask me if it was okay for Umberto to stay alone at her place when she ran to the store (he didn't want to go), I swallowed my fear and said yes. He was fine. I then let him stay here with his sisters while we walked around the neighborhood. I was totally over protective about it. Made him call our cellphone twice to make sure he could do it. Asked him a dozen what if questions. Finally we left him. He called once. We didn't get to the phone in time. I called back but he didn't answer (as I had instructed). We hurried home. We were five minutes away. I was trying to not panic. When we got to the front door, Umberto meet us with a big grin on his face.
I tried to call! I told him.
It's okay. he answered. I took care of it. Piper was upset because she wanted you but I got her a movie going on Netflix, and she was okay.
Umberto was proud. And he had creatively taken care of a situation on his own. Maybe it's time for this mama to start letting him go.