Hats Off to the Free Range Mom

There I was, listening to public radio, again. And there was the Free Range Mom (great blog site, Free Range Kids) Lenore Skenazy. She is the woman that everyone got crazed about who lets her kids actually do things on their own. I can’t remember if her child was 8 or 10 at the time she let him find his way home alone but that’s the gist of it. They practiced, he had money, he knew what he was doing, etc. At first I had this visceral reaction of “oh, you can’t do that” and then I stopped and actually engaged some brain cells. I was riding the subway on my own at that age in New York City, and the bus. I rode to school on public transport, I rode home. I am fine, more or less. I can find my way in any large city in the world that has a subway system. I experienced greater harm when flashed during a trick or treat fo UNICEF experience, but that is another blog altogether. She has accumulated amazing statistics that show that crime is down, pretty much everywhere with the possible exception of serious central city ghettos in which gangs persist in harming each other. But generally crime is down. We read these awful stories ( and they are awful ) of children disappearing, assaulted or molested. But we don’t read of the millions of children who are fine and running about all over the place. And so all we know about is the one case, not the millions who are fine. This is similar to all the people who said, when we adopted, “aren’t you afraid she will come back and take him away?” Well, of course. but the statistics are overwhelming. There are many stories of the parents who came back and ripped the screaming child from its adoptive parents arms. But there are no stories of the millions of happily placed and adopted children who grow up in loving homes. But as usual, I digress. We are insanely overprotective of our children these days; we don’t allow them to become independent and self-reliant people. And our level of societal fear is incredible, notwithstanding the statistics that say that violent crimes hae decreased and violent crimes have decreased. Despite the fact that my husband and I tried very hard to give my son the space to experience things and do unusual things, travel and such, I still believe we have been overprotective. My son at 17 still seems to have a certain lack of skill at dealing with the world which I regret, although I know he will develop it eventually. I sent him to New York this summer to intern at a large, hip business managed by my brother. I knew there would be alcohol, possibly drugs and I knew he would have to deal with it. He rode the subway home at 3 in the morning, got lost, went the wrong way, ended up in Harlem, had to ride all the way back. He is fine and now he might be able to find his way in any major city in the world with a subway system. Better late than never. I don’t know why people are so distressed at the idea of allowing children to learn how to cope with the world, but my hat’s off to the free range mom!

Boys! Are….

So, my son has been gone for a month. Doing what is a story for another day. Suffice it to say he has been away learning how to work and growing some confidence, figuring out how to make his way, a little more, without our help. I am incredibly proud of him, but it is so hard to see him growing away. I want my boy to stay with me, but I want him to find his wings and be happy. It was a good summer I think. Now he has to come home and look for a job here, boring after what he was doing. But first, the point of today’s rant. He flew home from New York, getting in late Sunday night. One of his friends picked him up (that’s a first!) and he stopped home, well after I was asleep (working today), and went off to sleep at a friend’s house. God knows he hasn’t seen them in a whole month! Of course he hasn’t seen us either but we have become anchors, secondary but necessary, rather than his primary focus. This is as it should be, but I think as the mom I have a right to actually see my kid, hear about his trip, etc. etc. etc. But no, here it is about 9 p.m. on monday and I have yet to see his face! Good grief. I’m just the mom after all. But so much of parenting is knowing when and how to let go, when to open your hand and let them fly. I know he still needs us, quite a bit, but he would never say so and we won’t acknowledge it. We will always be there for him, and I think he knows that, we won’t yet acknowledge that either, maybe later. Every time I loosen my hand a piece of my heart takes wing with him.

Its All My Fault

Ok, I’m a slacker. Life got busy and I abandoned my blog, two whole weeks. Bad blogger! So I am off the Walmart kick, at least for now. It seems to me that, frequently, it is all my fault. This is what comes of benmg a “sandwich generation” caregiver. I have learned to accept blame without really taking it on. I used to argue about these things but it isn’t worth it as it is crystal clear that I can’t win any argument on this score. Whenever my dad and I get into an argument of any kind his brain seems to skip to a new subject whenever we are about to arrive at a dead end or he is going to be wrong. He just gets confused and starts talking about something else. Mighty convenient I say. Our most recent example. I was going through his checkbook for the eight thousandth time trying to find the error. I notice that he was still paying union dues to a number of locals. So I ask him why. Other than his “retired status” dues from the union that pays his pension, there didn’t seem much point. My dad says he pays his union dues because he still wants to work. Now he is eighty two, he is quite slight and hasn’t worked for at least five years. He doesn’t remember that he hasn’t worked for five years. He thinks he needs more money so he should work. He doens’t need more money and he can’t work, although he is pretty healthy; his work involved serious physical labor. So, he says, he can’t work because he doesn’t have a car. After his last hospitalization he stopped driving. The reason he doesn’t have a car is because I am driving his car. In his mind I have stolen his car. Never mind that the doctor says that he cannot drive again. Because he hallucinates, can’t remain focussed or concentrate on what he is doing. He hates the doctors I took him to because he believes they are in a conspiracy with me to steal his car; to say he is crazy. He claims that he failed the neuropsych tests because he was having a bad day and he “has always been bad in math”. He believes the doctor he never met before rigged the test. He still speaks of the car as his prize possession. He believes I am keeping him here because I want his car. Now, while it is nice to have no car payment, the car just isn’t all that. I have tried to explain to him that a nine year old, stick shift station wagon with a hundred and twenty three thousand miles on it just would not be sufficient to convince me to do this. But it is all my fault that he can’t work, can’t drive, can’t fly an airplane. That’s ok, I don’t mind.