The Fourth of July! If you are American, you might commemorate the Declaration of Independence of the United States, and perhaps have a 3-day weekend full of decadent food, drink, and family time. In my UK household we are celebrating a little of our own declaration of independence by my son.
Independence – isn’t that what we are ultimately trying to achieve for our kids? As impossible as it feels sometimes, we need to trust what we have taught them and the habits we have helped them form, as the process really does work.
A few years ago I began leaving my son on the underground tube in London (on purpose!) so that he could continue the rest of the way to school on his own. A little bit of independence for him and a whole lot of heart palpitations for me. A year later he started doing the journey door to door, carrying a home key to lock up when he left. Some more independence for him, and for me it meant sometimes a locked door and sometimes not. Sure, occasionally he mistakenly misses his tube stop and ends up in a random tube station, but he calls me and we sort it out. He’s getting there. And here’s an important question – what did we do before mobile phones?
A few weeks ago he lost his tube card at school, and called me to say he was going to walk home, over a mile in central London. I told him I could drop everything and get him, but he insisted on walking home alone. And so he did! The craziest part of this to me was the fact that I wasn’t even too worried when I thought about the dozen or so busy intersections he had to cross, or the countless buses that would be passing by him. After years of endless guidance and formation of daily habits, eventually he was just ready.
On a side note about the 'big walk home', feeling slightly more free than he should have, he decided to take a small detour and stop in the M&M store to use his lunch money on a treat. He got kicked out of the store immediately since he wasn’t with an adult. Ha! That gave me a bit of satisfaction. He is gaining some independence but he is still my little boy who needs to follow my strict instructions to go right home.
My daughter still says that I will be taking her to school forever. She might be right, since the other morning when I quizzed her on which way we are supposed to walk out our door to the tube to get to school, which we have done perhaps a thousand times, she walked left. It was supposed to be right.
Lessons and habits, more habits and lessons, and suddenly our kids are independent. This can happen in any area, including and especially mindfulness. If we teach them about mindfulness and help them work it into their daily habits, they will be able to cope with the ups and downs of life when they are on their own. The myKinCloud app was designed to help parents with exactly this. Even if it doesn’t seem like our kids will ever be capable of being independent, the odds are they will.
So Happy Independence Day to those celebrating the Fourth of July, and Happy Independence Day to those who are experiencing their kids gaining some new independence! Your kids will be ready, but the question is, will you?