Letting go

We’ve been talking about the nine year old making short journeys on her own for a while.  We only live five minutes walk from school, down relatively quiet residential streets and across two roads without a lollipop lady, and she’s keen to have more responsibility.

But, and it’s a very big but. I know a nine year old who was killed crossing the road.  It was the street she lived on, not a busy one, the car wasn’t speeding, she just walked straight in front of it without looking.  My nine year old is fairly sensible, but so was this child.  Whenever the subject has come up, I’ve put it off.

On Thursday, we were all ready to leave for school, the poorly five year old in a coat over his pyjamas.  Just as we are walking out of the door, he starts vomiting in the flower bed in the front garden.  Mid-vomit, the seven year old says he needs the loo and will I come with him.  I yell couldn’t you have done this earlier and he begs please.  Turns out he has has diarrhoea.  I guiltily leave him on the loo and go back downstairs to find the dog eating the five year old’s sick.

I make an executive decision.  I tell her to go to school now, be really careful, and come back by herself.  Leave as soon as the bell goes, don’t stay and talk to your friends, come straight home, be really careful.

I don’t have time to worry about it, I spend most of the day mopping up sick.

At 3.35 on the dot, there’s a loud knock at the door and I open it to see a beaming, proud of herself, nine year old on the doorstep.  Safe and sound and home again.

I think one of the very hardest things about parenting is letting go.  Sometimes it’s good when the decision is taken out of your hands.

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18 comments
  1. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. Big started going in to town by herself sometime maybe a year ago now, and the first few times she did it I just sat and stared at the clock. Well done to your nine year old and I hope that the other two are feeling better by now!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      They’re much better thanks. It’s hard, I guess the next step is going to the shops…

  2. It’s a huge moment isn’t it? We have given both boys the responsibility of going to and from school now. I really don’t know what to do with myself…

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      It was very odd to have a day without going to school at all. I won’t know what to do with myself either.

  3. Corinne said:

    This is wonderful and you are right, sometimes it’s hard to let go and to be forced into as they know when they are ready. Thanks to Him Up North for sharing as it’s the first time I’ve visited your blog!

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      Thank you for visiting!

  4. jfb57 said:

    Well done to you all! The boys will be very pleased with themselves when they realise what they brought about. Just wait until it’s all of them off on their own!! 😉

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      I’m not ready for that yet!

  5. Sharon said:

    It means you have done your job well! Isn’t part of the point that you teach them to be responsible and sensible? Just wait till they start driving?! 🙂

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      Don’t, terrifying!

  6. Timely post for me for we too have a 9-year-old who’s keen for independence. Walking to school alone is a problem because it’s a mile across a park full of large and leaping dogs and the odd stray nutter. Walking to the shops causes me the same concern as you. She’s just the kind to wander out in front of a double decker. The other worry is public opinion. Recent media tales of councils contacting parents whose eight year olds go to school alone have made me fear some official reprimand, or at least disapproving whispers from other parents, none of whom let their under tens out. I’ll wait for a vomit trigger, like you, so the dilemma is removed.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      In that case, I hope you have vomit!

  7. I also have a 9 year old who wants to walk to school. There are several roads to cross, but the busiest has lights so that’s ok. I think he will be careful crossing, but I hate the idea of him walking on his own. I know the chances are incredibly slim but I worry about him getting snatched.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      I’m really not worried about that, but I used to work for the NSPCC and I know the chances are infinitesimal.

  8. Oh, you made me cry. I don’t know if it was reading how pleased your 9 year old was or thinking that I’m going to have to do the same myself in a few years. I hope you’re all better now.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      We are better thank you 🙂

  9. Kelly said:

    I cannot imagine what it is like having to stand back and bite your lip as they take these first steps towards independence. Well done you.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily said:

      You just get on and do what you have to do.

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