So this morning Erik and Luey took their first steps out into the big world unaccompanied by an adult.
This has been on the horizon for a while, and was probably overdue, but you know how it is with your first, you just don't feel quite ready to take a chance on them being able to handle the responsibility until, well, until your hand is forced (for many of us).
My brother and I were running errands for my parents and walking outselves to school from at least 8 and 6 years of age, if not earlier.
This route was where we walked to school before we moved to another school and took the bus...
And this route is where we walked to our local corner shops or shopping centre to run errands.
Both those distance are longer than where Erik and Luey walked to this morning.
We always hear how dangerous it is for kids out in society without adult protection but recent research suggests that crime rates these days are lower than they were when we were children. So, lately I've been concerned about suffocating the kids a bit with my own fears for their safety.
Anyway, as things stand the boys will need to find their own way to school two days a week starting at the beginning of next month, and also find their own way home one afternoon a week. This will require them to cross roads on their own - including four lane main arterials and navigate catching and transferring from and to busses. They know these routes like the backs of their hands, having taken them almost daily for the past three years. They know the busses, the bus stops, the streets and crossing and traffic flow.
They probably could have taken on this responsibility last year. It was just mine and their father's anxiety holding them back. We were waiting for them to start behaving like adults. That however, is a bit of a Catch 22 situation. They can't act like adults until they have experience while will cause them to mature and having the understanding of adults. Even if they grow to be 18, without experience, they can't develop maturity.
So, we kind of have to let them gain experience before they have maturity, so that they can gain maturity...
So, this morning I gave them $5 and sent them to the corner shop on an errand for me. Erik was both excited and nervous, more nervous than excited I think. Luey was "on the job" man. Serious and determined. They only took 15 minutes to do the entire round trip - which means they ran all or part of the way (but not across the streets, they assure me). Since coming back Erik has been very excited and keen to do it again. He's also suggested other destinations - some that are fine, others I'm not so sure about. Luey has not shown any of this excitement or even mentioned doing other errands, but he's not one for wearing his emotions too boldly on his sleeve.
I'm just relieved to have broken the seal on this milestone. Now that it's done I can see that they were well and truly ready and mature enough to do this and I'm glad we didn't wait any longer than we did!
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