I let her walk four blocks to her friend’s house for a playdate. Without me. Alone.
After years of walking the route again and again, she knows it better than me. I couldn’t tell you how many blue doors are between our house and theirs. How many driveways and dogs, or backyards with trampolines. But she can.
Thinking about that route I found myself remembering how when I was five I was trusted to walk to and from school everyday – twice because I went home for lunch. Why couldn’t my six-year-old make it four blocks to her friend’s?
We reviewed the essentials: phone numbers, her address, what to do in case she DID find herself lost. When I called to tell the other mom about her little adventure there was a short period of silence on the phone. I started to think maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. “Get her to call me as soon as she gets there, OK?” I asked, hoping it would make everything sound better. “She’s walked that way 1000 times. She knows what to do.” Seconds of silence felt like an eternity.
“We did it. Remember? I even walked to school on my own – when I was five.”
Agreement came quickly then, my last comment offering a way back into the conversation for this woman. “Yes, I guess we did.” And then I was reminded of how much we did at that age. We climbed trees so high we could see over houses, we crossed small rivers, dug out icey caves in the winter, ran through the forest and built forts. All without our parents knowledge or at very least, out of their sight.
No, she could do this. And she did. The power went out in our home moments after she shouted a brave “Bye mom!” and slammed the front door. I waited about 10 minutes before I picked up the phone and tried to call her friend’s house. But it was dead.
Ah, life will always throw you a curve ball when you least expect it. I waited another five minutes before piling my youngest in the van and cruised through the neighbourhood. She was there. She was fine. And she had the biggest smile on her face.
“Guess what I did, mom?!”
“Tell me,” I said with a big grin.
“I walked here all on my own!”
It was like she had learnt to walk, ride her two-wheeler, and jump off the diving board into the deep end all at once. I wouldn’t take that away from her for anything.