How did this happen? And how come it happened so soon? And am I really ready? Do I have a choice?
These were just a few of the many questions I silently turned in my head, thoughts whirling around causing a commotion. I knew however, that the time had come to let go of his hand a little more. We were entering a new phase: the Junior High School Phase.
Last weekend we celebrated the big 10. This week, I dropped him off and watched him high five his friends as he entered the building of a new school, yes this was Junior High. He was the nervous Freshman, I was the anxious mother. He handled it with his usual nonchalance, I hid it under my usual show of coolness.
“We’ll be OK” he said I wanted to hug him but knew that I needed to leave him the room. So, I waved instead. In the car the questions came pounding back into my head and on my way to work I was thinking up of ideas of how to be more involved and of how to stay more connected in his life - he was growing up too fast.
On the way to work my brain worked overtime and began plotting. I planned to drop him off at school everyday, he negotiated that he could take the bus home 3 times a week. I wanted to stay in touch with his new teacher and just be a part of his life, every step of the way. It has not been my style to smother him and nor is it our belief to push him to join 1000 extracurricular activities, we’ve always tried to guide and leave him the space to make his own decisions. So far it has worked. He is quite independent and very confident. So why change a winning formula?
In my wild mind I thought by hovering around him, bubble wrapping him and being more connected with everything he does would be a good thing. Right? After all I just want the best for my kid - something we all can understand. Right?
That same day I bumped into the mother of Soeren’s kindergarten friend. She was extremely excited and over-anxious at her daughter’s first day of high school. She told me how the new teacher had mentioned that her daughter had some great singing qualities and that she should sign her up for the school choir. This seemed to have set her off and she was steam-rolling trying to find the telephone numbers of the best singing tutors to teach her daughter. I remembered that the poor daughter used to be a part of almost every activity and always presented the most immaculate school projects, while Soeren would show-off his slightly lopsided piece of work proudly having spent hours working on it.
It made me stop. Was I heading towards becoming a “Helicopter mum” like her? Was the insanity creeping up on me?
Somewhere along the years, as parents we have taken a turn on this long path of parenthood, becoming obsessed with our kids' success. We strive to “do the best” for our children, in the process we have turned parenting into a form of product development. We demand nursery schools offer more music or language programmes, we plead with high school teachers to review the B on our children’s report, some parents are even calling their college kids each morning to wake them up for class, or negotiating salaries with their children’s future employees.
I always promised myself that I would never take-off to hover high above the ground circling around my child. Man I was going to stay grounded! I admit that I do have some of the tendencies to turn into an über-parent. I do worry and I really do want the best for my son. We all do - don’t we?
For some reason I remembered the Easter Egg Hunt we attended at a hotel in Dubai early this year. While parents actually jumped the rope or literally pushed their kids under the rope to make sure they got enough chocolate egg and treats, Soeren, not used to the elbowing, looked rather dejected as he only managed to secure a few treats. As he came up the stairs he noticed a younger child sitting on the stairs with an empty basket. Soeren reached into his own half empty basket and dropped one of the chocolate eggs into the child’s basket. When he came to me, I was the proudest parent that day. As parents we were not doing such a bad job.
On the way home I made a few corrections to my plans. I stopped at the bus station and bought a monthly bus ticket. Instead of dropping him off at school everyday, I think once a week is sufficient. He’s loving meeting his buddies at the corner of the street early mornings to walk to the bus stop. After lunch at the school cafeteria, we have agreed that he walks to my office located 2 streets down. We have also agreed to make a “Meeta-Soeren” lunch date once a week, where he will meet me in the center of town and we will spend a nice afternoon together.
You know what? I am rather pleased of making the choice of not following the path of a helicopter parent. While I will continue to worry and in honesty, I might sometimes see a reflection of myself in their hovering behavior I know exactly that that is the kind of parent I do not want to be.
I want Soeren to experience scraped knees, fend for himself and find his stable position in society for himself. I do believe that his failures will make him a stronger and a better person. Giving him more freedom and independency to live his own life is beneficial for both of us in the long run. The trick is to find a good balance between being too hands-off and too involved - yes that is the kind of parent I strive to be.
I am not sure what the new school year will bring but I think both of us are ready to embrace it, he with his usual nonchalance and me with my usual coolness. Inside, we both will probably be nervous but I do believe that we have built a solid path leaving a lot of room for open communication.
One thing is for sure though, there will be many evenings where we all get together in the kitchen to cook up delicious meals. Meals like this full of flavor and good memories - Soeren cutting tomatoes, Tom grating cheese and me kneading the dough. Where we tell stories of our day, laugh at jokes and make plans for the future - together and individually.
This galette picks up some of its flavors from the famous Pissaladière, a tart often served around the Nice, Marseilles area. Salty anchovies are combined with divine marinated olives and spiked with thyme. I add the summer sweetness of ripe heirloom tomatoes, creamy delightfulness of goats cheese and the slight tanginess comes from the capers.
This is a fantastic and light meal boasting of big rustic flavors. The best part is it is you can experiment with other flavor combinations. If anchovies is not your taste, add shavings of asparagus for a mellower taste, which we added for Soeren who is not big on anchovies.
I would love to hear what your thoughts are on parenting and how you handle it? Are there things you said you would never do and realize that you are? have you adapted your parenting style with each phase? Looking forward to your thoughts, feedback and advice.
Have a great week ahead. Hugs xo
You might like these big flavored tart ideas from WFLH:
|Honey Figs Gorgonzola and Prosciutto Crostata||Roasted Pumpkin Aubergine Zucchini Tapenade Tarts with Buffalo Mozzarella||Roasted Tomato Aubergine and Tahini Tart|
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