When Your Kids Are In School, You Have To Learn To Let Go
I help my kids a lot without even realizing it. It’s just habit. I should probably trust them more and make them more independent but to be honest, sometimes I do things for them because I’m faster and we don’t have time to wait. I check their folders and stick them in their backpacks. I line up their clothes each day and help them brush their teeth. A little voice inside of me says “let them do more on their own” but I stupidly persist. The only place I cannot jump in is when they are at school and it is helping me see the error of my ways. I’ve come to realize that when your kids are in school, you have to learn to let go. And that it needs to translate at home as well.
My son is in kindergarten and keeps losing gloves. Because we live in a snowy climate, both of my kids own several pairs. He has now lost three. I have been yelping at him for a week to find them. I have asked his older sister to take him to the Lost and Found to see where they are. I have fought the temptation to go to their school and look myself because I really don’t want to helicopter it up. It’s hard to resist, no joke.
Yesterday afternoon, he comes home with a notice from his teacher that they are going outside to play today. There is snow. He needs gloves, hat, etc. I remind him that all of his gloves, save for one useless knit pair, are lost. He looks at me with huge eyes and says “but then I can’t play outside!” I felt my stomach lurch and said “I suppose not, unless you find the good gloves you lost.”
He completely melted. Bawling, rolling on the floor crying, the works. They don’t get to go outside much at school because it’s so cold here during the winter months. I know his teachers won’t let him out unless he has proper outerwear. He begs me to go out and buy him a new pair. I tell him that I will do no such thing but in my heart, I feel so sad for him. I know he is only five- it is normal for kids that age to misplace things. However, I start to think of the future. I cannot be chasing a 14-year old to make sure they don’t lose their outerwear or to verify they have done their homework. I need to make an impression here and suddenly, making him suffer through a lost snowman-building session seems like a good lesson to learn.
This morning, he looked at me reproachfully as he put on his crappy gloves that will be soaked through with the first pile of snow he picks up. He asks if I can drive him to school and help him find his other gloves. I tell him I cannot and that he is a big kid in school now and needs to look out for his own things. He was sad but I could see it was sinking in. He is realizing that I am not going to fix everything and that he needs to look out for himself.
When he gets home from school today, I hope the news is good. I hope he tells me that he found all the lost gloves in the school office and had a great time playing outside. If he comes home in tears and says he couldn’t play outside because of his lame gloves, I will feel terrible for him but I’ve come to see that I need to let him fall a little. I need to let go. It might not feel good, but I know I am only helping him in the long run to be able to survive without me and my reminders. It’s part of growing up.