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From the Stir-Going Hands-off

Posted by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM
  • 17 Replies

"Can I go ride my bike?" My five-year-old is tired of watching me tapping away at a laptop, and I can't blame him. I often think about how different it will be to work from home next year when Dylan's in kindergarten, but for now we have to balance my writing deadlines and his boredom as best we can, and that usually involves him spending up to an hour at a time on his bike.

He dutifully pulls on his helmet, straddles his bright yellow bike, struggles to shut the garage door -- then he pushes into the pedals and he's off. Down the driveway and into the street, quickly moving out of my view from the front living room.

Not for the first time, I imagine it: a careening screech of brakes followed by a sickening impact. The moment when everything in our lives irrevocably changes … and it's all my fault.

Oh, I know: Melodramatic much? But I suspect it's the curse of every parent, to have the unwanted ability to conjure up the absolute worst case scenarios at the drop of a hat. I think of it as the All Roads Lead to Meningitis Syndrome, where slight fevers are always portents of doom and cars lurk around every corner waiting to mow down your child.

What's that saying -- "When you hear hoofbeats behind you, don't expect to see a zebra"? Ialways think it's a zebra. And according to WebMD, the zebra has an incredibly rare form of incurable cancer.

What I'm saying is that it's not easy for me to let Dylan go out and ride his bike by himself. While our street is pretty quiet there is some traffic, mostly landscape trucks that come rattling through to service our neighbors' lawns. Dylan knows to stay on one side of the street, not to ride past certain points, and he pulls over and waits while cars go by -- but he's only five. He's not necessarily the model of good decision-making skills or laser-like focus, you know? I can see -- all too vividly -- how something could go wrong. A too-fast, inattentive driver; a distracted child.

In order to keep an eye on him I could sit out in the front lawn … but I don't. I usually pull a chair close to the living room window so I can at least see him when he loops back through our driveway, likely as not singing one of tuneless little-boy songs, but for the most part he's out of my view. I sometimes think how his solo bike rides are a metaphor for parenting: We taught him how to ride, we taught him to wear a helmet, we taught him street safety as best we could -- and then we let him out into the big scary world that's full of fucked-up, terrible things. We allow him to disappear from our sight, despite the urge to hover and protect.

The worst thing of it is, I know if (godforbid) something bad were to happen, I would never forgive myself. I would think of it over and over and over for the rest of my life, re-enacting the moment when he asked if he could ride his bike but this time I say no, not by yourself buddy. Or I say okay but I have to be out there with you. Or I ask if he wants to do a puzzle or draw with crayons instead.

But that's no way to live, right? Refusing to let your kid do perfectly normal kid activities because your brain is a paranoid Whack-a-Mole game of unlikely outcomes?

Parenthood is this bizarre journey of pouring everything you've got into keeping your child safe and cared for ... then learning to let go. You bolster them up as best you can, then you reluctantly step back in order to chew your nails and hope for the best.

I see Dylan's yellow bike carrying him further and further, faster and faster. He whoops with pure childhood joy and waves to me, and I stifle a million smothering urges and wave back, until I can't see him any more.

What sorts of things do you let your kids do that freak you out? 

ARTICLE

by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM
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Replies (1-10):
ChancesMommy07
by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:13 AM
1 mom liked this

I can't think of anything I let Chance do that really freaks me out. Chance is 5 and I live in a quiet neighborhood as well but I'm not letting him ride a bike in the street without me being out there either.

SassyWildflower
by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:20 AM

Go to school! LOL That's about the only thing my kid does that freaks me out. Every. Single. Day. 

AnGLInterrupted
by Kendall on Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:30 AM
1 mom liked this

Maddy wants so bad to run loose in the neighborhood with the other neighborhood kids and every time I think I'm going to cut her a little slack, my mom brain kicks in and I refuse (everything inside me screams) to let her walk out that front door.

I don't always have the time to hover over her when she's out in the front yard and I'm scared to death that if I'm not there (RIGHT there) someone is going to snatch her or hurt her in some way..  or she'll get hit by a car.

There's another part of my brain (a SMALL part) that reminds me that when I was 5 I was crawling this same exact street with my friends.  But the other part of my brain (the BIGGER part) screams that that was coughtwenty-fivecough years ago and the world has changed.

I'm always on the fence about it and clearly my child is getting frustrated.

I don't trust people (as a general rule) and even though I've talked with these parents and I know they are okay people, I still don't truth them to watch my daughter for any length of time.  So I don't trust them to watch her if she runs across the street to jump on the trampoline with the other little boy and girl.

I'm a wreck and probably need professional help.  (STACYYYYY!!!)..

SassyWildflower
by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:34 AM

lol I think all of that is totally normal. I am consumed by fear when i think about letting my kids do certain things. I will have nightmares =/

I can't tell you the horrible things I had dreams of before she was about to start school. It was awful. 

I don't let the kids play outside alone--even in our back yard..i just don't. the world isn't a safe place and by gosh I will protect my kids even if that means smothering them until they're 20! LOL

Quoting AnGLInterrupted:

Maddy wants so bad to run loose in the neighborhood with the other neighborhood kids and every time I think I'm going to cut her a little slack, my mom brain kicks in and I refuse (everything inside me screams) to let her walk out that front door.

I don't always have the time to hover over her when she's out in the front yard and I'm scared to death that if I'm not there (RIGHT there) someone is going to snatch her or hurt her in some way..  or she'll get hit by a car.

There's another part of my brain (a SMALL part) that reminds me that when I was 5 I was crawling this same exact street with my friends.  But the other part of my brain (the BIGGER part) screams that that was coughtwenty-fivecough years ago and the world has changed.

I'm always on the fence about it and clearly my child is getting frustrated.

I don't trust people (as a general rule) and even though I've talked with these parents and I know they are okay people, I still don't truth them to watch my daughter for any length of time.  So I don't trust them to watch her if she runs across the street to jump on the trampoline with the other little boy and girl.

I'm a wreck and probably need professional help.  (STACYYYYY!!!)..


Firenygirl180
by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:37 AM
My kids aren't old enough for that kind of stuff yet. Ds loves to be outside and we are finishing up our 5th month of being stuck inside. Tomorrow we are going to McDonalds for lunch just so he can okay on the playground there.
We live on a dead end road and are the only house on the street, so ds riding his bike by himself wouldn't be so bad. I'd probably sit outside with him when i could, but we will have a new baby in 2 weeks so it may not always be easy.

I pretty much ran free as a kid. I lived in a development 1 road in, around and out. And everyone knew everyone. Now it has changed a lot and is a little different, but when i was little we had a lot less technology as well
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AnGLInterrupted
by Kendall on Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM

LOL I let Madison play outside in the backyard.  Although when she was escaping the fence she wasn't allowed out there until her daddy fixed all her breaking out spots!!

I have "hover mom" tendancies.  She tells me, "Leave me alone!!", to which I reply, "I will STALK you!!"

I wish I could let go.  I wish I could give it a trial run* and see how she does going across the street, or down the street, or whatever.  But that part of my brain (that stinkin' part of my brain)...  says to me, "1 time is all it takes!"

I blame television.  :nods:

Quoting SassyWildflower:

lol I think all of that is totally normal. I am consumed by fear when i think about letting my kids do certain things. I will have nightmares =/

I can't tell you the horrible things I had dreams of before she was about to start school. It was awful. 

I don't let the kids play outside alone--even in our back yard..i just don't. the world isn't a safe place and by gosh I will protect my kids even if that means smothering them until they're 20! LOL

Quoting AnGLInterrupted:

Maddy wants so bad to run loose in the neighborhood with the other neighborhood kids and every time I think I'm going to cut her a little slack, my mom brain kicks in and I refuse (everything inside me screams) to let her walk out that front door.

I don't always have the time to hover over her when she's out in the front yard and I'm scared to death that if I'm not there (RIGHT there) someone is going to snatch her or hurt her in some way..  or she'll get hit by a car.

There's another part of my brain (a SMALL part) that reminds me that when I was 5 I was crawling this same exact street with my friends.  But the other part of my brain (the BIGGER part) screams that that was coughtwenty-fivecough years ago and the world has changed.

I'm always on the fence about it and clearly my child is getting frustrated.

I don't trust people (as a general rule) and even though I've talked with these parents and I know they are okay people, I still don't truth them to watch my daughter for any length of time.  So I don't trust them to watch her if she runs across the street to jump on the trampoline with the other little boy and girl.

I'm a wreck and probably need professional help.  (STACYYYYY!!!)..



SassyWildflower
by on Mar. 19, 2013 at 9:51 AM

I don't think that "stinkin" part of your brain is bad at all. i think 5 is too young to be runnin the streets lOl.. 

Quoting AnGLInterrupted:

LOL I let Madison play outside in the backyard.  Although when she was escaping the fence she wasn't allowed out there until her daddy fixed all her breaking out spots!!

I have "hover mom" tendancies.  She tells me, "Leave me alone!!", to which I reply, "I will STALK you!!"

I wish I could let go.  I wish I could give it a trial run* and see how she does going across the street, or down the street, or whatever.  But that part of my brain (that stinkin' part of my brain)...  says to me, "1 time is all it takes!"

I blame television.  :nods:

Quoting SassyWildflower:


QuiltLover
by Jocelynn on Mar. 19, 2013 at 2:25 PM
2 moms liked this
Well, speaking from a mom that HAS HAD a child run over with a car.....I was right beside him, mind you, the car hit him and not me...we were in the yard....dont let them out alone, their minds are not mature enough to know IF I CAN MAKE IT ACROSS THE STREET IN TIME....they need our attention, think about it...what is more important, that time on the computer or your child....we spent 10 days in the hospital, had surgery, and months of pain...so, yeah....go with them outside.
AnGLInterrupted
by Kendall on Mar. 19, 2013 at 4:25 PM

I agree!!  :)

Quoting SassyWildflower:

I don't think that "stinkin" part of your brain is bad at all. i think 5 is too young to be runnin the streets lOl.. 

Quoting AnGLInterrupted:

LOL I let Madison play outside in the backyard.  Although when she was escaping the fence she wasn't allowed out there until her daddy fixed all her breaking out spots!!

I have "hover mom" tendancies.  She tells me, "Leave me alone!!", to which I reply, "I will STALK you!!"

I wish I could let go.  I wish I could give it a trial run* and see how she does going across the street, or down the street, or whatever.  But that part of my brain (that stinkin' part of my brain)...  says to me, "1 time is all it takes!"

I blame television.  :nods:

Quoting SassyWildflower:



Cafe Steph
by Head Admin on Mar. 20, 2013 at 9:56 AM

We live in a rural area so bike riding just isn't possible but I freak out when they go on school trips or sleepovers and things like that where I have to trust other people to be responsible for my kids' well being.

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