Room To Grow

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It’s graduation season, and everywhere you turn people who were kids yesterday, are throwing up their caps, and slightly older youth are taking their first steps to independence (and trying to calculate how they’ll be able to pay off their college loans!). And because the truth is that time flies, soon, it’ll be my son who’s graduating and beginning his life as an adult. Well, to  everyone else anyway…I’m pretty sure my kids will always be little punks in my eyes. But I do pray that God grants me enough time on this earth to let me see them when everyone else considers them adults.

My son just completed grade eight, but because the school system here is set up differently, they will still be in middle school next year, when my nephew and niece – who are also graduating eighth grade – will be entering high school. Anyway…so a few months ago M had two of his friends over. At about seven or eight, one of the boy’s parents called him and asked him when he would be home, and how he would get there. I heard this side of the conversation:
‘I’ll just finish this game then leave. Maybe a half-hour.’

Pause.

‘No, I can come home by myself.’

Pause.

‘M will walk me to the tram station and I’ll take the tram.’

Pause.

‘No, don’t come to get me. I can make it home by myself.’

Pause.

‘Yes, I’m sure. Don’t come.’

Pause.

‘Okay, I won’t be long. Bye.’

Hearing this reassured me; earlier that day I had been questioning myself, doubting that I was parenting responsibly. “Is M really ready to take the tram alone? To figure out which stop to get off? Yes, I went over it with him a thousand times. But what if he misses it? Will he know what to do? Should I be going with him? No, he’s old enough. He is not old enough! What if he gets mugged in the tram? Oh, God. What’s the right thing to do?”

It’s a tricky age, really; they’re too young for us to let go, but too old for us to be there, holding their hands. As a parent, I know I need to give my kids room to grow and experience new things and take their own steps…but it’s so very worrisome. I was comforted hearing that I wasn’t the only one going through this. Hearing M’s friend talk to his parents, I felt better knowing that we all have those same doubts. When I was M’s age, I didn’t live in this environment, so I don’t even have a reference from my own youth to guide me. And even though my brother and my best friend have kids M’s age, they, too, live in a different environment; the suburbs are not the city. As long as they remain in the suburbs, their kids – like myself in my youth – won’t even have the option to consider public transportation. It’s my call, and I feel a bit reassured that M’s friends’ parents are making the same decisions.

But even though I let M take the tram, I am so immensely grateful that he doesn’t start high school for another year. High school is a wonderful, exciting, scary, horrible experience all rolled into one! And I want to protect him from the ‘scary, horrible’ as long as I possibly can.

For the record, M’s friend left our house before the half-hour was up even though they hadn’t yet completed the game.

I pray for my kids and yours…I pray God protects them always. I pray they continue to be clean, honest, compassionate souls, and that life doesn’t jade them, and that bad influence has no power over them.
God, protect our youth; shroud them in Your Grace.

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