Friday, August 20, 2010

Stretching the Boundaries

Recently Jared and Camryn have been taking advantage of their newly-honed bike-riding skills. They have taken to riding around our neighborhood, which has brought on the discussion of how far it is okay for them to ride by themselves. We even went so far as to draw a little map of our subdivision and show them which streets were okay and how far was off-limits. This whole concept is something that I've struggled with since I became a mom: How much is an appropriate amount of freedom to give your kids and how closely do they need to be watched? My mom says that when she was a child they got kicked outside to play and roamed for hours and hours without adult supervision (back in the day when that was acceptable). I remember as an older kid going from friend's house to friend's house with a group of kids (as long as they were withing a block or two of our house) and riding my bike around our neighborhood. Yet I still find it hard to square away my responsibility for keeping my children safe -and fears for the crazy world around us- with the need to give my children room to grow and explore (and my physical inability to be in two places at once). 

I know that it's a different world than my parents grew up in- or I grew up in (although sometimes I wonder if now we just know more about all the crazy stuff out there and it really has been there all along). I know you need to be careful, but the only way I can find to physically watch my kids at all times is to keep my kids inside watching TV or playing Wii. In that case, instead of being a bad parent for not watching my kids closely enough, I would be a bad parent for not making sure my kids get enough exercise and letting them watch too much TV. But if I take them outside and watch them the whole time, then I can't make dinner and they end up eating processed junk food and, again, I am a bad parent. There I go, complaining again. I guess sometimes I just feel like it is a catch-22: no matter what you do, you're a bad parent.

But back to bikes. Jared and Camryn went out bike-riding and Jared came back significantly earlier than Camryn did. I asked him if he'd seen her and she hadn't. I started to get worried and was just on the verge of getting everyone in the car to look for her when she finally got home. Camryn said something about riding her back by her friend Aubrey's house. Unfortunately I had specifically told her earlier that she couldn't ride as far as Aubrey's house. Our conversation went like this:

Me to Camryn: "Why did you ride farther on your bike than I said was okay?" 

Camryn: "It was an accident." 

Me: "How can that be an accident? "

Cam: "I accidentally wanted to."

Since then, Jared and Camryn have been better at sticking to our bike-riding limits. Now the problem is how to get Jackson from following them down the street on his big wheel, as fast as his two feet will carry him....

1 comment:

Lara said...

Love it.

I accidentally want to do things all the time. It's a real problem. :)