We thought about it all last year. It is possible. I am sure they could do it. But a vague sense of fear and trepidation held us back. But what if…no matter that we couldn’t finish the sentence. It was still beyond the realm of possibility. The anxiety of parental backlash alone was enough to end the conversation.
But then, this summer, we did a dry run. And, lo and behold, it was not only possible for them, but easy. Am I talking about brain surgery? Finding the cure for cancer? Making a five star gourmet meal for a party of 20? No. I am talking about letting them take the metro home alone. Maybe not brain surgery, but in some ways, it becomes the equivalent of such in our poor parental brains. It is hard to think that our kids can survive for one second without our taking them by the hand and leading the way, although that is exactly what we want for them. Strong, independent kids who can think for themselves. Unfortunately, we forget that doing everything for them tends to erode that kind of independent thinking.
So, one day before school started, my two girls set out on a mission. The mission was to take the metro to the stop by their school, get a treat at the depanneur (Quebecois for convenient store) right beside the school, and take the metro back. They were armed with their metro cards, some money and memorized phone numbers for our cell phones as well as a map of the metro.
The first thing they did was to get lost. They took the wrong metro. Did we receive a panic phonecall? No. They realised their mistake, got off, took the metro in the other direction, and were fine.
So last week, on the second week of school, we started letting them come home alone. They need to take two metro lines and it takes them about 40 minutes. They have their own keys to the house and they call us as soon as they get in. Usually, it is a bored voice on the other end, “Hi? Mom? We’re here. Bye.” Like it is no big deal that they just reached a level of independence that is making my head swim. Like this sort of thing happens everyday and I should just chill out.
As for parental backlash? The only comment I have had so far is a message from a woman who lives in our neighborhood and who I call Nervous Nelly- you know the type- single, working mother, frazzled, trying to do her best with her kid but who worries about every single detail. You know, the one in the parent teacher meetings that won’t shut up, even though we’ve all been there for 2 hours and the whiskey is begging for an audience. Anyway, I get this phone message saying, ” My son saw the girls on the metro the other day. Do they come home alone? Because N. has started taking the metro alone too! I think it’s great! But he’s a little nervous about it so maybe they can home together one day?”
So much for parental backlash. I guess it just goes to show you that we were all thinking the same thing but too afraid to say anything. Our kids have more independence, feel more confident and have a sense of accomplishment. We have more time, less travelling and smaller gas bills. I don’t know about you, but I am pretty much feeling that this is a win win situation. So Free the children! And by proxy, free yourselves!