Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Deep Do-do and other Decisions

The other day I was relating a GBN1 story to her mother. I mentioned that GBN1 and I were each in our own bathroom stall at Dillard’s. At this point in the story, my DIL was horrified that I had let GBN1 go into her own stall by herself. At the time, I didn’t think a thing about it, but since then the incident has provoked much thought. Jesse and I had a discussion last night on parental involvement that provoked even more thought.

On one level I wondered why that was a bad idea. Why was it not okay? Why did I not know it was a bad idea? Was it a bad thing to do? What part of my raising led me to this behavior? It made me think about how my mother raised me. It made me think about my two very different grandmothers – the neat, clean grandmother whom I was named for and the not-so-neat-clean grandmother that I am more alike. It made me think about how I raised my children.

On a second level I wondered when do we start trusting our children. When do we let go? Do we ever let go? We are parents forever, but there is a giving over of trust and letting our children try to do for themselves. I realize that for each of our kids that time of turning over trust is different. Each kid is different. Each situation is different. As adults we have to feel for ourselves the appropriateness of each situation. Sometimes it is a tough call. Sometimes we turn over a trust to our kids and they let us down – fall flat on their face – but we go on and try again maybe with more instruction next time. It seems we are constantly weighing moments, decisions – trying to decide what is right for each kid at that moment in time.

Did I think of all of that while letting GBN1 go into a bathroom stall by herself? No. Do I always let her go by herself? No. Each situation is different. GBN1 reacts differently at different times. She is certainly different than other kids. And I have been wrong before.

My daughter is 26 years old. She is single and lives at home. She works as a drafter for Halliburton. She has her own car, which she pays for. She has a motorcycle, which she bought for herself. She likes to travel and do adventurous things like scuba diving, sky diving, etc. She is a clotheshorse. Is all of that okay? Are there some things that I should say "No Way!" Until the day that she marries, she is still under our protection. We still expect her to be obedient to our rules, and she is. Could she turn and walk away from all that we have taught her? Yes. Does that scare the heck out of me? Most definitely.

Metaphorically speaking: Not everyone agrees when to let children go potty by themselves. Anything could happen. Bathrooms are dirty. They could potty on their clothes. They could play in the toilet. Sometimes they think because they went potty by themselves, they can do anything. Etc. It is a chance that you take. Although you might not realize it, but when you do let them go by themselves, and they accomplish their goal without any problems, it is such a victory for them. It just seems well worth the chance. Isn’t that why we parents are here? We check out the situation, we weigh the circumstances, and decide if our kids can handle things. We can be wrong. Our kids can fail. But a trust develops between you and your child. Hopefully, you make the right decisions at the right time. Hopefully, you learn to trust each other’s decisions. Hopefully, you have a husband who says, "It is all okay; quit worrying."


Jenny said...

Every situation is different. In my own personal judgement, a child old enough to be in school (preschool?) is old enough to go in her own stall. Depending on the place is a child old enough to go to the restrooms by herself. If I'm in a big city (Lubbock, Albuquerque, Atlanta), I'm not sure I would let my oldest (age 11) go to the bathrooms without me, but her own stall, yes. I'm paranoid when it comes to cities. But anywhere around Portales and even Clovis, I think I can let go just a little bit.

It's very hard for me to let go. Just the other night in Clovis we went to a concert (Restless Heart). One of her friends was there too and they asked if they could go down to the arena in front of the stage and dance. And I let her. BIG letting go moment for me. Letting her sit with friends at ball games at the school is another problem I have.

Bag Blog said...

Jenny, I hear you! My dad had a saying: one boy is a whole boy, two boys is a half a boy, and three boys ain't no boy at all. Each situation is different and trusting them with friends is another situation to be weighed.

Buck said...

T'is a fine line we all walk in this space. Personally, I don't see a thing wrong with letting a little girl have her own stall in the rest room... I mean, after all, you were right there, correct? But, different people have different opinions as to what's acceptable risk and what isn't. I think the definition of "acceptable risk" is a lot lower for boys than it is for girls, but (once again) that's just MY opinion.

I agree with Toby: "It's all OK; quit worrying!" ;-)

Jenn said...

I think when they are old enough to go to school they should be able to go in there alone ,since they have to in school. I still would go with them to the washroom and wait in there for them though since I wouldn't want them getting lost,stolen or hurt somehow . I still make my ten year old wait outside the boy's for me when he gets done if I'm in the girl's because I don't want him going off in the mall alone!

Becky said...

I've got to agree with the others who said you didn't do anything wrong. You were right there, and available to help her if needed. I don't remember when I started letting Cody go into the men's room by himself, but it was wayyyy older than 4 years old.

Knit and fall back in it said...

When I am with the little ones in my life (they are all old enough to be in preschool at least) I let them go into the stall by themselves, but I never let them go into the bathroom alone.

Jo Castillo said...

I think you are a fine gm. Quit worrying! Times have changed though. We used to go all over Albuquerque when we were 10 or so, eat and just walk all over downtown. Whew!

Jenny said...

Lou, my husband says that EXACT thing, but put dogs in for boys. He isn't very happy about me bringing those puppies home. However, he doesn't seem to mind the two boys we had together. LOL!

Fire Fox said...

Lou, I think you were just operating by instinct. You probably didn't feel threatened and were comfortable with the surroundings enough to let her go in by herself. Our unconscious decisions are usually based on prior knowlege, instinct and level of comfort. As the rest have said... Quit worrying!

Mezzo SF said...

As the elder child myself, I was kept on a shorter leash in some ways, but I also got to speed ahead and "break in the parents," if you will.

However, as the only DAUGHTER - I was/am kept on a shorter leash in some ways. I'm almost 29 years old and while I don't live at home, I do live with my brother - and, up until recently, his girlfriend. There would be less than a snowball's chance in Hell for that situation to fly the other way around - if it were my brother, me and my boyfriend all living together.
But - that's just my family. The girlfriend in question moved for gradschool, but her parents were fine with her living situation.

And the two are planning to get engaged her shortly and live happily ever after, the end.

So yes. It's different for every kid.

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

I'll try to reword this as best as possible...i lost my connection yesterday and thus...the comment.

Failure yields experience, success breeds confidence.

Honestly, i let my children fail, because when they eventually do succeed the confidence gained is all the more sweet for them. Although, they do know that i/we are there to bail them out should the circumstances prove too difficult.

i've already started seeing the dividends of this between HRHTDP and the neighborhood kids, she is more self confident and less fearful of the unknown...and P2 isn't far behind.