Monday, September 27, 2010

Away from the Watchful Eye

One morning about a year ago, I woke to find my daughter, Reese, sitting downstairs on the couch wearing only her underwear, eating chocolate pudding, and watching Sports Center.  It was quarter to seven in the morning.

Are you kidding me?  How long has this kid been awake, anyway?  What else had been slipping under my parental radar?

Probably a decent amount.

I'm finding that even the most diligent parents can't supervise their child's every action.  One day I'll have my head turned and I'll miss when one of them decides to eat dirt at the playground.  I won't be there to see all the wipe outs on their bikes.  I won't witness every skirmish between siblings, and they'll have to sort things out themselves.

My kids will eventually become people who are independent of me, people who will have lives of their own.  They'll have to learn and grow outside of my watchful eye, just as they learn and grow under it.  I'll have to trust that they'll be able to apply the instruction that they've received even when I'm not there.

For some of you (myself included), this feels like a distant goal.  We're mothering children who are still so young, still so needy.  Hourly, we're called to change diapers, cut food into manageable bites, unsnap seat belts, tie shoes, and brush hair.  We hoist car seats.  We feed mashed bananas and rice cereal.  We wear burp cloths over our shoulders like it's a new fashion trend.  We make sure that babies don't crawl toward unsafe areas and that toddlers don't stick forks in outlets.  When our children are this tiny, our moment-by-moment lives are immensely intertwined with theirs.  There's not much that we don't supervise, and there's not much that we miss.

But they grow quickly, and one day they'll be able to fix themselves breakfast (even if it's chocolate pudding) and give you an update on last night's football scores from what they learned on Sports Center.

My watchful eye never saw that one coming.

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