Friday, December 09, 2005

Letting them be on their own

When my son was born I was your classic tiger mama. I didn't want anyone else to watch him, didn't want to sleep away from him for one night, didn't ever want to return to work.

For two and a half years I wrote furiously while trying to support my son and I after my divorce. We managed it, but not very well. I was stressed and tired. So I decided to return to work. My fears of putting my precious son into day care were about to be realized. And then something happened. He LOVED day care. There were other SMALL PEOPLE. They had ALL THESE TOYS.

For weeks they said "we can't even tell that he's new!" There were zero tears, no wimpers, and the boy was more happy to go to day care than I was to get the regular pay check.

I learned something from this. It is ok for my son to be out in the world - without me. He grew by leaps and bounds. He'd always been vocal and now he knew all the letters and numbers and colours. He knew brand new songs which he'd sing to me while he was in the bathtub. We created new traditions for out time together. Every night we spend 45 minutes reading books, we colour together and discuss the pictures. I learned that I was ok to focus on work, knowing that he was learning and growing as a little boy.

Soon, I'll be home once again. August 2006 we are expecting a baby. Hopefully the lessons will stick.

I've been watching some aquaintences go through a difficult time with their son. He had some health problems at the beginning of his life and has been treated like a patient for his entire life. Now that he's started day care, his parents call twice a day to check on how much he's eaten or how he has slept - even if they wake him up with the ringing phone.

I want to tell them that it's ok, but it's definitely not my place. They have to learn, just like I did, that they will outgrow every limit you set for them. You have to let them be on their own.

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