Sometimes it’s easy to forget how young 7 is especially when your 7 year old is almost up to your shoulder and his feet are almost as big as yours. Yesterday was a tough day. Today we’re all good but yesterday I was reminded that he is really small (even though he is tall) and tender and has only been on this earth for 7 short years. 7 is still a tender age in my opinion.
We send them off to school with all the bigger kids and expect them to act big too. We want them to sit in quiet little circles and do their work quietly and work cooperatively with each other (even if they don’t like each other) and make responsible choices. Those are all behaviors that will take years to develop. Adults can hardly make responsible choices themselves let alone a 1st grader. For lunch you can choose pizza or salad. Make a responsible decision! Right now their fidgety little bodies are growing and their fidgety little brains are absorbing all the data that is thrown at them all day long and trying to process it. Then when they get too fidgety we get frustrated and snap at them to sit still for one friggin’ second (and by we I mean me). He needs loving adults to hold his hand and hug him when his eyes well up. He needs to be heard and validated, not dismissed and ignored.
At the same time, he can’t always make wise decisions on his own so he needs those loving adults to guide him and sometimes make those decisions for him. Sorry, but no matter how much he begs me to watch Star Wars Episode III I’m not caving in. Just because he can ride a two-wheeler and is better at the Wii than me doesn’t mean he is ready for PG-13 violence. There will be plenty of time for all of that. Why does it have to start so young? When did desensitizing our kids become okay?
I may sound like a paranoid mom who won’t let my kid out of my sight. I’m not a helicopter mom, really I’m not. But I do love him with the ferocity of a mother bear and mother bears protect. There is this other part of me that wonders if I need to be more like a mama bird. Mama bird’s know that their little one isn’t going to survive unless they learn to fly. Even if it means pushing him out of the nest, he has to figure it out on his own if he is going to take flight. It’s a difficult juggling act to keep him close but also send him into the world. I don’t want him hurt but I also want him to know how to take care of himself. While I write I find that I’m conflicted because I’m all about letting kids be kids and not pushing them to grow up too fast. But at the same time I know that he will eventually need to grow up and will look to us for the tools to make it through that harrowing experience. Part of me wants to let it happen organically but there are a lot of outside factors that I have to take into account that will have an influence on him. I start to wonder — What will have more influence, mom and dad or…the big bad world?
Right now my inner mother bear and mama bird are at odds with each other.