We constantly repeat and hear things like “we want our children to be independent” “you only learn when you make mistakes” “give your children wings“. But as one of my best friends said once: It is easier to call the devil than to see it coming.
Anyway, we have a very independent teen in our house. He is 13 but due to safety reasons in our home country, he never walked to school or rode a bike alone or took a bus. Things have changed though, now we live in beautiful BC and it was only a matter of time for him to want those things. For those of you that don’t live here, riding a bike in BC means being on the road, some have bike lanes but not all of them, so you basically share the road with cars. It took as a while to let him bike by himself, we studied the best roads for him to get to a specific destination and he’s been out 5-6 times alone. It is nerve wrecking I admit, but soon he’d be legally able to drive a car so it was hard to delay the biking.
And then the bus thing just happened. Last week with friends, but yesterday he wanted to go a specific soccer field by bus by himself, back and forth. Both my husband and I could have driven him, but we decided to zip it and we said ok. We checked the bus lines with him, agreed the best stops and the time to catch each bus. He made it without issues to the field. Coming back I called to check on him when I knew he was supposed to be on the bus and he says: “Hey mom, well I took the wrong bus and I am in downtown, but don’t worry, I already asked, I know which bus will take me home and I am just waiting for the bus to arrive”.
My whole body went into PANIC mode, the one triggered by your amygdala. It took all the self control possible to utter this words: “Ok, call me when you are in the bus“. I hung up, told dad, who surprisingly was even more concerned than me. We looked at each other and tacitly agreed that we should let him deal with this and do not even think of offering to go get him.
10 minutes later we decided to call to check on him and he was getting on the bus to come home. I decided to wait for him at the stop because it was getting dark. I told dad to stay home. When he came off the bus, he had a huge smile on his face, said FINALLY and gave me a big hug. He apologised for taking the wrong bus (to which I proudly responded, no worries son, that’s how you learn and you solved your problem) and he started telling me all about his bus adventure.
It was hard folks, it was hard not to come to the rescue and solve his mishap, it was hard controlling our protective instincts and let him handle the situation. But we are sure that this is what was right for him, it will strengthen his confidence, his self-esteem and the feeling that he has the resources to solve things.
This parenting thing becomes harder by the second, so if you have young children, hold on tight, it’s a scary but great ride!