Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rite of Passage

Tomorrow, Kate will be seven years old. In many cultures, seven was traditionally considered the Age of Reason. More was expected of people at this age than in our own culture. At seven I rode my bike all over the place, all by myself. In fact, at 6 I did that. I did a fair amount of wandering in my neighborhood. I was a free range child, and so were all my friends. Free range children are somewhat scarce these days, it seems, but I think that's a shame. Kids need to go out and explore on their own, how else will they develop the confidence to strike out alone when we want them to? I feel strongly that if we can help our kids develop a sense of themselves as individuals in the world, they will fare better when we insist they behave as such. There's nothing magical about turning 18, it's just that it takes 18 years to train for it.

So, in an effort to really begin this foray into autonomy, today Kate walked by herself from our house to the coffee shop where her Aunt Jo Jo and Uncle Steve met her, and bought her an iced chai latte. She bought her own bagel. We'd trained for some time for this. A lot of my friends seem to think a child on her own in the city will most certainly be abducted by a stranger who will do unthinkable things to them. Sometimes that happens, but statistically speaking, that sort of event still rates as random, and I see no point in fretting over random. What good would do anyone? We've talked about not getting into cars with people, finding a trustworthy adult if you feel unsafe, that sort of thing, but mostly, I fear traffic. So, we've had a lot of practice dealing with traffic as pedestrians. We put Kate "in the lead" when we take walks as a family and she has to tell us when it's safe to cross streets, etc. She'd proven her knowledge of this topic to our satisfaction and so, today, away she set on her .3 of a mile adventure.

She made it to coffee shop in roughly 5 minutes. No matter, she still beamed when we followed suit and joined them there. She'd done it alone, and I could see her pride, her confidence being built and I feel that is worth celebrating. Next time - she'll go the .9 of a mile to Aunt Jo Jo and Uncle Steve's house.


jennifer said...

cool mom. my overprotective parents would never have let me do that. I was not free range :(

Pepper said...

GREAT idea, I love this post! :) And Happy belated Birthday, Kate! There is only one way to truly earn your street smarts... I applaud your attempts to create a free-yet-safe environment to develop this valuable skill set. Cool!

LMP said...

@Pepper - if you guys stay put, we can soon send Dean and Sarah out to fetch our coffee for us :)

Drunkle Steve said...

It's actually 0.4 miles (I checked it afterward). Don't gyp Kate out of that other tenth that she trekked!