Being a parent, I always walk a fine line between negligence and teaching. Today was a good example.
My son has a habit of getting out of bed for school after I have called him ten times. When left to his own devices, I am afraid that at age 13, he would fail. At what point do I start teaching him lessons through some tough love? Our parents didn’t discuss any of this, while parents in 2012 diaper our children until the age of 20.
Today my son missed the bus for the second time in two weeks. The last time he missed the bus, he had to take a bike to school and I was convinced that through mere humility, he wouldn’t become a second offender. I was wrong. This morning, I received a call about ten minutes after his bus time that he had missed the bus, of course due to my negligence. I told him he had to be resourceful and would need to take the bike and that I would be very upset with him if he were late. He assured me he wouldn’t be. I was about 45 minutes away.
About one hour later, he called me.
“Mom I was hit by a car.”
This is what every parent is afraid to hear. Immediately, the “itty-bitty shitty” committee started in my head. You are awful. What kind of a mother are you? You know he isn’t coordinated.
“Where is the person that hit you?” I asked.
“Well...I told her I was fine and she left.”
Two minutes later I hear the woman pull up beside my son.
“Put her on the line” I said.
“I am so sorry” she began. “I was stopped at a red light and suddenly I heard something hit my car from behind.”
“So let me get this straight,” I said. “You were stopped at a red light and my son hit you?”
With that, I had my son on the phone. Was this concocted as a way to get out of trouble for being late? Had he fallen off his bike unable to manage while jaywalking? I was relieved that he was ok. After speaking to his school’s office, they confirmed that there were no scratches, dents, or bruises.
In the meantime, some of my neighbors called to say that they saw him biking and would be more than happy to give him a ride, knowing that I was bringing my oldest to high school at the same time, who didn’t have access to a bus.
The committee started again, this time with sirens. “BAD MOTHER ALERT.”
I tried to explain to my neighbors that it is about learning responsibility, that we have sidewalks and that it is only 2 miles away.
As a parent, I would love to know where that line is between building responsibility and putting your children in danger? Either way, there are times where you cannot win.
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