Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Child rearing is NOT for the faint at heart!

I got up at 3:00am this morning. Why, you ask? Well, my adorable, brilliant and amazing 6th grade son was due at school by 4:30 to catch a bus bound for California. His school has an "outdoor school" for the 6th graders, and usually they go to Catalina Island. However, apparently the ferry ride to Catalina has historically produced more than their fair share of sea-sickness, so this year they are bound for an outdoor camp called Pali Institute. Look it up - it's a cool place!

Anyway, Chase, all of his teachers and most of his classmates left on four gigantic busses this morning at 5am. Parents are NOT allowed to come, and I was surprised to see many parents in actual tears as the busses pulled away from the school.

One of the things I have discovered that is different about Las Vegas is that most parents simply do not allow their children to spend the night away from home. Period. Even if the inviting child is from a family VERY close to yours, it is just not done.

I think that's weird.

Chase had his first sleepover at the ripe old age of about 2, I think. He has never ever EVER called and wanted to come home in the middle of the night from a friend's house. He has spent many a night at a friend's house and every summer since he was nine, he has gone to see my parents on the East Coast for a week. Flying by himself. Last summer, he went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama for a week. This summer, he is not only going to see his grandparents for a week, he is going to camp in WISCONSIN for two weeks with his good friend from Texas.

Since we moved here and I realized that sleepovers are simply not done...I have wondered about that.

And here is my theory on the subject. It is worth exactly what you paid for it. :)

I think there are two camps in child rearing.

Camp 1: My child may get hurt someday, and I plan to prevent that at all costs. Therefore, I will make sure he or she doesn't leave home much, and will keep him or her with me as much as possible so I can be in complete control of who he or she is exposed to and what he or she does.

Camp 2: My child WILL get hurt someday, and I plan to make sure he or she knows how to handle it when it happens. Therefore, I will raise him or her to handle disappointments (not avoid them) and learn from his or her mistakes. I will teach him how to protect himself and who to talk to or where to go and get help if he can't.

Camp 1: My child may feel disappointed and/or fail during his life. I plan to call any and all coaches to make sure my child is on the team he wants to be on. If my child doesn't get into a class I think he should be in, I will write formal complaints and berate any and all teachers until they see it my way. I will make sure my child's life is perfect in all ways, and I will make life difficult for anyone who gets in the way of that goal.

Camp 2: My child WILL feel disappointed AND fail during his life. I plan to prepare him for such eventualities as best I can, and while I will always stick up for my child, I will expect him to self-advocate. If he doesn't make a team, I will expect him to go talk to the coach and find out if there is something he could do next year to increase his chances. If my child believes he should have a higher grade on a test, I will expect him to talk to the teacher and see if the grade can be raised.

Camp 1: It is my God-given duty to raise my child to be safe at all times regardless of how much that process hurts my child.

Camp 2: It is my God-given duty to raise my child to be independent and learn to live without me, regardless of how much that process hurts me.

In case you wondered, Divine Hubby and I are in camp 2... :)

I am sorry if I stepped on any toes out there, but honestly, there is a generation of kids who in part due to the fact that they can't spend the night at a friend's house at age 12, are learning that the world is a scary place and they had better just stay home to be SAFE. I believe that God gave me this precious child, not to cling to for dear life, but to love, teach, nurture and then set free to be an independent adult who can handle life because he HAS handled life all along. I mean, if the world is SUCH a scary place that you can't spend the night with a trusted family friend, then why would I want to be out in it...EVER? I know people who cry at the thought of their child going off to college. I know I will be sad and miss him when he goes, but I hope at that point to be proud of and confident in the young man he has grown into and look forward to the employee, husband and father he will become. I do not want my son (no matter how much I adore him) to live with me when he's 30.

SO. While I will admit to missing my son this morning, I know he is in good hands, and I know he can handle being away from home. This is part of an independent life - spending time away from home. I will NOT lie awake tonight wondering if he is sad and missing me, because I know he isn't. He is having a blast and will enjoy seeing me again on Friday. I can't wait to hear his stories, but he and I both know he can handle his life without me these next three days. That statement might make some parents sad, but it makes me proud. I love my independent kid!!!


Vegetable House said...

Great pep-talk, Suz! (sob) Being brave is tough.

Caroline said...

Sometimes it is hard to let them be independent, but I think Camp 2 is a pretty good place for a parent to be. I want my kids to be independent and confident. As a teacher, I have had my share of parents this year who will NOT allow their child to make a mistake or to struggle in any way. Their children will have SERIOUS problems when they have to enter the "real world" someday. What will they do when Mommy and Daddy aren't there to pick up the pieces? Thanks for this post!