My ten year old Jane has a new favorite activity. She likes to walk to the sandwich shop three blocks away, eat there, and then window shop either at the pet accessory store or at the Comic Book Store. It’s quite a lovely way to pass some time, until you find out that she’s doing all of this without neither an adult nor a cell phone. Then people look at me funny.
When my daughter is gone I sit home and worry more about her food choices than about her interactions with strangers. The thought of my ten year old choosing a lunch of partially hydrogenated oils terrifies me, because according to The New England Journal Of Medicine, “between 30,000 and 100,000 cardiac deaths per year in the United States are attributable to the consumption of trans fats”. That is a statistically significant number of deaths.
In 2007, there were 518 minors Abducted by a Stranger per the FBI. In 2007 there were thousands of Americans who won the lottery, yet that still seems like a long shot to me.
Not all mothers want their tween daughters shopping, walking and dining. Not just yet, and I respect that. What’s interesting is that after the last five years of simple play dates we are back to phone calls and confirmations before we parent someone else’s child. Most recently my daughter’s ten year old friend came over and they wanted to walk to lunch, alone. I got on the phone and called the other Mom.
What was startling wasn’t that she didn’t want her daughter dining sans parents, it was that she was apologetic about it. “I’m really sorry,” she began.
“She’s your daughter. Don’t apologize.” I interrupted.
The mom continued. “You see I know a child who was recently kidnapped and murdered here in California.” Even if she hadn’t, she’s your kid. I had to interrupt her. I’m not going to make your parenting decisions for you, I’m going to assume you’ve thought it through, and I’m going to ask you how I should treat your child.
I am surrounded by extraordinary women with wonderful children. I call them and ask for help with parenting, camps, schools and discipline. We listen to each others input, and then we make decisions based upon our own parenting philosophies and what our individual children’s needs are.
What I really wish for, though, is for women to parent without apology.
I’d love to see folks backing off of Moms and acknowledging that they’re bright. I’d like to see women presented true and relevant data with neither spin nor fear mongering. I’d be ever so grateful if the days and nights of the mainstream media (MSM) weren’t occupied by finger pointing and blaming mothers for every problem in the world.
I let my ten year old walk about a mile, alone and without a cell phone. If there’s a problem she can walk into a store and ask to use the phone, just like I did. Just like you did. I love and appreciate my fellow Moms. I know that we’re all taking many paths to the same destination, I’ve seen your kids, and they’re wonderful. My hope is that my girlfriends and I will keep an open duologue. My hope is that I’ll continue to allow my children as many freedoms as they can handle, and that the women around me will do the same.
My hope is that we will support one another in our parenting, and know that these tween years will include irregular growth and maturity.
My hope for the women who surround me is that they know that I appreciate and respect their parenting decisions, and they will respect mine.
I will continue double checking with other moms before I allow a group to cross the street, and I will try to mask the horror when you give my children food that comes out of a science lab.