E and C came home from an afternoon at the grandparents’ while hubby and I watched a movie and ate dinner (without interruptions!) and said to me, “Gong Gong (Grandpa) told us the story about when you walked home.”
Ah, that story again. Even though I am the main character in the tale, I only recall bits and pieces of it from what my parents have told me. From what I know, it goes something like this: When I was 5 or 6 years old, my family lived in an apartment in San Francisco across the street from my elementary school. One day when the last bell rang and all the students had been dismissed, I was left standing at school by myself. My dad (who usually picked me up) had taken my grandmother to a doctor’s appointment and was running late. I waited and waited for him to arrive, but saw no sign of him. That’s when I decided to walk home.
(Side note: I’m not sure why the teachers let me leave campus without a parent, but it was the ’80’s and perhaps things were different then?)
Now imagine a small, nearly 4 ft. tall Asian girl (likely with two ponytails) crossing a busy street in the middle of the afternoon in a large city by herself. That was me. I made it to our apartment in one piece, knocked on the door and waited for someone to welcome me inside. When no one opened the door, I burst into tears. I then decided to walk back to school and wait there again. After a while, my dad and grandma finally showed up and took me home.
This story makes me think about my own kids and what they would do if they were ever in the same situation. I actually asked them once about it and hubby interrupted me with one of his ever-so-logical comments, “We live too far from their schools for them to walk home.”
Aiya, yes, but that’s beside the point.
What I really want to know is whether they will be able to figure out a solution should they come up against a problem? The bigger question is, will they be able to make it in the real world?
Being a parent has opened up my eyes to two things: one, how big and unpredictable the world is and two, how important it is for us to teach our kids how to not only survive, but thrive, out there on their own one day.
Sigh. This is scary stuff for any parent to think about, but especially for an overprotective, perfectionistic one. If it were up to me, I would stick both my kids into a bubble made of carbyn (or separate bubbles so they wouldn’t fight) and preserve them there for the rest of their lives. This way they wouldn’t ever get hurt.
But the truth is that being safe and protected only gets you so far in life (and especially not out the front door if you’re stuck in a bubble made out of the strongest stuff on earth). Sure, being a parent means nurturing your child to the best of your ability, which includes sheltering them from the bad stuff of the world as much as you can. But it also means equipping them with the smarts and the heart to know what to do in the real world. It means teaching them how to spend within their means, say no to temporary pleasures, do the laundry, lend a helping hand to others, write a resume, cook a simple meal, change the car oil (or where to take it to get it done), laugh at themselves and love another person. Most of all, raising kids in the real world means preparing them to try new things, showing them how to get back up when they fall (because they will) and letting them know it’s okay to try again.
Because it’s the struggles and adventures of life that allow us to see just how strong and tough and persevering we can be. For me, it was that solo journey I made as a little girl so many years ago that reveals to me how brave and adventurous I might really be.
I hope and pray hubby and I are doing a halfway decent job of preparing E and C for everything that lies ahead. But I know that even when we can’t always be there with them, the One who knit them together – each and every little cell in their bodies – is always with them.
Check out Paramore’s song, “Ain’t It Fun“, which talks about living in the real world. I hope though that E and C will always know they can come back to us whenever they need help!
How are you preparing your kid(s) to live in the real world?