The Road to Independence #Monday Musings

The Road to Independence #Monday Musings

Last weekend as I was picking up H from his guitar class we saw one of his classmates walking back home. He lives close by and goes to the same  class.

I happened to say, ‘How very responsible and independent he is! Walking back home by himself!’ And that, dear friend, was a mistake  you must remember never to make when you’re with your tween. I regretted it almost immediately.

Never praise the independence of another child unless you are willing to let yours have it too. Click To Tweet

I really should have just kept my mouth shut. But then even the most cautious of us slips occasionally.

Obviously, H wouldn’t stop talking about it. Obviously he pestered me to let him walk there and back on his own. The distance doesn’t worry me, it is a little over 1.5 kms. It’s the fact that he would have to cross roads twice through fast-moving traffic and the fact that he is rather absent-minded.

Of late I have started allowing the twins step out on their own. They walk down to the stationery shop to get their own supplies and to the library. We are fortunate to have all of those within a few hundred meters around our apartment complex. I love it that they can run small errands for me like picking up grocery or giving clothes for ironing, which takes such a load off me, while making them feel responsible too.

But this was something I was skeptical about.

After much discussion (read argument) and silent contemplation (read sulking) we reached an agreement, or so I thought. It was decided that we would have a few ‘trials’. H asked if he could walk back with his friend. I agreed, assuming I would be walking with the two of them. Of course he assumed I wasn’t.

When the weekend approached and he realised I was going to walk with them he threw a fit, the kind of fit only a be-dead-rather-than-be-seen-with-mom-by-your-friend tween can throw. After another round of ‘discussions’ and ‘silent contemplation’ he said I could walk along as long as I kept twenty paces behind them.

So imagine this – H walking ahead with his friend pretending he didn’t know me and I following like a detective sent out by a suspicious wife to keep an eye on her cheating husband (or vice versa, for that matter), ready to turn my back or duck behind lamp posts to avoid being spotted, except he would have been more worried than me about me being seen.

The things one has to do for one’s children!

Mercifully, H tired of the walk soon-enough and realised that getting a ride with me was a way more comfortable option. I’ve begun to look upon laziness as a serious virtue. For now, the matter is resolved, till the next bout of independence strikes.

Meanwhile we are practicing crossing roads together, while I practice keeping my mouth shut. Tight.

What do you think, dear reader? Am I being too cautious, ‘overprotective’ as H accuses me of? What’s the right age to let children out on the roads on their own? And I’m talking Indian roads here.


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48 Replies to “The Road to Independence #Monday Musings”

  1. Well, I am terrified crossing roads, and I am way older than the twins!
    As someone who isn’t a parent, I really don’t know what advice to share.
    However, I loved reading this post, and imagining you as a Jasoos :)))

  2. Talking about independence, I have a almost 5 year old who wants to decide what he will wear today or tomorrow or to the party etc. I have hard time accommodating to his idea of what he should wear and what he actually wears. But I have learned to give in. Realy no point arguing at his age when he really does not understand logic. it’ll be much more interesting to bargain with him when he grows up to be a teenager.

    1. Interesting’s the word :-). I’m getting there with the twins. When my daughter was small all she wanted to wear the chaniya choli – everywhere. What a trial that was. But she outgrew it and now we have a whole different set of issues.

  3. I really dont know. What could be the right age? But I would want my daughter to be independent and want to teach her to learn to protect herself, be careful and learn.

  4. Now that’s a real mommy dilemma! It just doesn’t stop isn’t it. I thought once they grow older we would have lesser worries but heck no. I am extra cautious too so I agree with your approach. Need to keep reminding self”zip your mouth” I love these lessons as it was help me when Angel grows older

    1. Oh yes Akshata – once the children are older they hold you to whatever you say. One has to be very very careful with the promises one makes.

  5. This one was simultaneously heart warming and hilarious! How do you do that, Tulika? 😀

    As for H, I kind of have to agree with him on the ‘let me walk alone’ bit. As a mom, I am on your side. What can I say? I hate sides! 😀

    It sounds like a good plan to let them walk together if they have company. Why not let them try that and see how it goes? We need to let them go. As scary as this stupid world is, we have to let them grow up. *Says the mom who still worries about sending her 11 year old to the grocery store down the street*

    1. I know you’re in the same space as I am. It’s really hard, isn’t it? You’re right, though. I should be glad that he has a friend independent enough to be walking alone. They just might be good company for each other along the road.

  6. I think small amounts of independence are great for their self esteem and learning to live in the real world, but then there are things we just don’t feel right about. I’m with you, too young for scary road crossings yet. #mg

    1. Yeah. it’s the road crossing that’s my worry. The only comforting thought is that, his friend has been negotiating it on his own and might help H do it too.

  7. I am totally agree with the point that never praise his friend for to be independent in front of him if you can’t give that independence to your child. A great lesson learnt for my growing kids also. I think both mom and child are correct in their own way. Mom always worry for their kids even the get married also. And every child want some kind of independency.

  8. I honestly don’t qualify to give you any advice on this. If it were up to me, I would follow my son around straight till college, so you see… I mean, of-course I do understand and agree with the concept of independence, I just have a hard time applying it in real life.

    On another note, you have a library THAT close by? Lucky you!

    1. Oh yes. I stay in a fabulous neighbourhood, which is why I am reluctant to shift. As for giving independence – after a point we just have to let go – the children will make you do so.

  9. We leave in an unsafe world. The recent incident in Gurgaon has left has horrified, shocked, traumatised all at the same time. So yes, I truly get it where your apprehensions stem from. Our kids are not even safe at school, and that is a very very scary thought.

    Well, I’m glad you both have made peace over it, till the next I’m-independent now phase strikes. It’s bound to happen, and somewhere we will have no other choice but to wean them off slowly but surely. I say this having raised a 19 yo. girl. 🙂

    Always enjoy reading what you write Tulika. Love

    1. Thanks Natasha. The world is growing more unsafe each day, which is why I want to hold on to the children. Of course I don’t expect them to understand that or even of they do I wouldn’t want them to sit home all the while. It’s a tough call as are most things to do with parenting.

  10. Oh No!! eating humble pie is just not nice! Having said that, I think kids are more resilient and gung-ho about doing things; if your child is asserting for independance, I guess you should be happy and let him take the steps; albeit with some caution on your side ofcourse. Like how you are teaching him to cross the road!

  11. Haha I will remember this lesson because if I still feel all kinds of anxious when my sister (who is a grown up) travels alone and she does all the time and for a long time now, imagine what I will do with M!

  12. Tough choices.I remember my mom used to teach me to cross roads and then some days sge would wait on the other side while I tried following instructions .You will find the correct balance I am sure .I am not comfortable crossing if there are no traffic lights .In this small town too I need help crossing .So you will know best I am.sure.Definitely keeping my mouth shut in front if my daughter snout all this though .!Loved this .We are now #MyFriendAlexa friends too!

    1. Ha ha.. yes keeping quiet is a good decision. For now we’re at a status quo. I hope I don’t have to make this decision for another year or two.

  13. Ha! what can i say, I am a daughter to a mother who is protective as you. I still remember my school days when my mom used to wait in the corridor, eagerly gazing at the road until me and my sister reached home. I used to point it out saying it an unnecessary worry but eventually i understood her love hidden in that act. Your’s will to in time!

  14. Never praise the independence of another child unless you are willing to let yours have it too. – You said it, Tulika!

  15. Ha ha.. I understand. We shouldn’t talk to them on that topic unless we are ready to give freedom. It’s funny how you both walked one behind the other a few feet away. Good that problem is solved for now. How old is H? Of course, when there are 2 places to cross roads, we worry.

  16. I was giggling all along, trying to imagine you hiding yourself behind a tree or a lamppost as you followed your little boy…oops, tween!
    I don’t know about sending him outdoors on his own, and all that parental stuff. But, one thing I do know very well, is to keep your mouth shut and save yourself!
    Good decision, Tulika! Zip your lips, your babies are growing up and you very well know how these grown-ups are!
    Lovely post, my dear!

  17. ha ha! this post made me laugh. you said that? really? who wouldn’t want to prove themselves to their Mum? 😛 Poor you! I hear you on the roads but trust me Indian roads are safer. People will hit brakes if he misses. I am sure abroad it’s hard. I know you must be thinking I am nuts but have you seen how adults cross roads? I am sure H will do a better job. Let him go. 🙂

    1. I know I know. My fault entirely. I’ve seen how the adults simply hold out their hands, like that would stop the traffic, and it scares the hell out of me.

  18. You know this is a dilemma every parent faces. And no, it is not as easy as it was in our childhood. With crazy, maniacal traffic we really have to be more cautious. For the elder son, we let him cross the road, walk some distance and take the public bus only when he was in the 8th grade so around 13 years of age. I had his butterflies in my tummy but did not follow him. Now, he regularly takes the public bus home from his school after his classes. For the younger son, it is okay to go anywhere at long as he is with his elder brother.

    1. It is always easier for the younger one, specially when the older one is as sensible as yours. 8th grade sounds good. That means I can hold on a little longer.

  19. Oh god…I loved this post…I was thinking and laughing at the same time…and visualising too…

  20. My dad still automatically reaches out to hold our hands while crossing the roads! I think the moment to let go is when he alerts you of an approaching vehicle while crossing/walking along the sidewalk/waiting by the side/riding the bike on the road. Next time maybe switch roles and let him be the responsible grown up and you pretend to be the carefree tween and see how that goes? 🙂 You could address the slip up by commenting on how responsible he is when he does a chore assigned well.

    1. Yes I shall let him lead and follow instead. I like the idea of being a ‘carefree tween’ :-). I’ve quite forgotten what that’s like. It would be good for a change – for both of us.

  21. If he is walking with a friend who is responsible to be let to walk alone, go ahead with it. Give some independence. One issue I had faced was that by not giving permission, they sneaked on me. I hated that even more as I wanted them to tell me where they are going and with whom. It just takes a bit getting used to. You can give him a talk on where he has to be more careful. Or walk with him one or two days and then let go. Show him (as you are already doing) on how to cross the road.

    1. Hmm… that’s a thought. Oh yes he going without telling me would be the worst bit. It’s just that the ‘what ifs’ are so scary I am reluctant to let him go.

  22. Tulika, you have posed a rather difficult question. I was lucky to have lived in the military area throughout my growing up years as were my kids. There was no fear of letting them go on their own to school or to play. I shudder to think of a 8 year olds or even 10 year olds crossing the busy roads on their own. Teaching them about road safety is important. I remember my dad used to tell me to look right and left twice before crossing the road and his logic was to walk on the sidewalk against the traffic so that we could see the approaching vehicles. As parents, we can teach them to be responsible and vigilant. You are doing the right thing by practicing crossing roads together. Best of luck, I’m sure your efforts will bear fruit soon. Take care

    1. Oh yes I remember that one about ‘first left then right then left again’ or was it the other way around? I am letting him take the lead these days but it still worries me.

  23. Oh, I so hear you, as I have an absent-minded teen at home too, who wants to be independent but, I’m scared of sending him out alone especially as we have very rash drivers around where we live and I keep imagining all sorts of situations he might get into! I tell myself how at his age, I used to walk to school alone or sometimes with a group of friends but then we lived in a small town with much less traffic and crimes unheard of so my mom was never worried about me in the way I am, about him. I think I will wait until another year before I set him free on his own but not until I’ve spent a few weeks following him closely to see how he fares on his own!

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