Let Them Fly?

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.”

This quote by Hodding Carter was told to me by a close friend, when my daughter was just a few days old, and it’s stayed with me ever since, as I think it’s so right. Everything that we do as parents, surely stems back to one of these?

Now my daughter is 4, and is at school, it’s starting to come into its own, and I’m saying it like a mantra on an almost daily basis! The other quote that’s coming back to me now, is the one that my own Mother said to me on an almost daily basis for most of my childhood: “Wait til you have children of your own, you’ll think differently then!” I think it was also followed up with something along the lines of “And I can’t wait to remind you of this!”

I was lucky as a child, my parents made me feel safe, but I was an only child, and I often got frustrated. I’d been taught right from wrong so I didn’t understand why my friends were allowed to do things but I wasn’t, although I’m sure I’m not alone in that!

My Mum is right (I guess they usually are!) in the sense that I do feel differently now, and I can understand why she felt that protection towards me, but I’m actually going the other way, feeling a responsibility to encourage my daughter to do things, rather than prevent her on the grounds that she is too young.

Since starting school, my daughter has settled in really well and is loving the independence that school brings. She loves to tell me about the things she has been doing, but also enjoys that fact that I don’t know everything, and sometimes will deliberately wind me up saying things like “I’ve been far too busy, I haven’t got time to tell you everything!” but I love the fact that she has her own time now, and I have faith in her that she can cope with the independence. I explained in a previous post that I wasn’t the slightest bit sad or upset on her first day at school, just excited and proud. You can read that here.

Given that we’d moved to a new area just 2 days before she started school, a place where she (and we) knew no one, she’s made some lovely friends. Within a couple of weeks we invited a friend round for tea. I spoke to the Mum at the gates, and assumed that the Mum would want to come round too, at least for a bit (only because she didn’t know me, or where I lived etc. we’d been living in this part of the country for less than a fortnight!), but the daughter looked crestfallen at this prospect, turning to her Mum and asking “So when will you go home and leave me?!” The Mum also was quite happy for her daughter to come round to our house without her so luckily, there were no embarrassed 4 year olds with their Mother tagging along on a play date! I was very flattered that this parent trusted me in that short space of time, and it made me consider whether I wasn’t perhaps giving my daughter enough freedom. On the flip side, my daughter has been going to friends houses for sleepovers since she was 3, they are her ultimate treat, yet most of her friends haven’t done that at all, and feel that she is far too young to be doing that even now.

Next week she is going to her first birthday party since starting school, so I’m wondering if I should be expecting to stay at that or leave her there and pick her up at the end. I guess I’m really thinking about the parents here, whether they’ll be expecting to be in charge of 30 4 and 5 year olds!

I’m on the steep learning curve about giving my children independence now. I’m not scared of letting go, I just want to do it at the right time. Is there a right time, or does it just come down to good old Mother’s intuition again? I guess I’d better get used to it, she’s only in Reception, I can’t imagine it’ll be any easier when she goes to secondary school!

For now, it’s off to do the school run, so that Little Miss Independent has plenty of time to get herself ready for her first school disco. WIll this be the first time I end up saying “You’re not leaving the house dressed like that?!”

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