Driving through town the other day, windshield wipers routinely swiping across the window. Coffee long gone cold, I leaned into the steering wheel a bit harder and waited. Thinking about nothing in particular, my eye caught the colorful flash of a red coat flapping along side the road. Inside it was a little boy no older than 10. He seemed happy enough, walking along the sidewalk towards his home.
A few feet down the road, another group of kids running down the sidewalk towards their homes, jumping in puddles and laughing around.
I don’t judge other parents, mostly because I don’t know what is going on in their lives. I don’t know what has come together to make them make these decisions on the behalf of their children, and I certainly am not capable of making any better choices. I have my hands full with my three. But watching the little boy run down the road, my mind went to other thoughts…
Would there ever be a day where I could let him take the bus, both to and from school – alone? Would there be a day where I could actually trust not only him, but the world, that he would make it home safely? I have read stories. Stories about kids getting lost. On the wrong bus. Drivers mistakenly taking kids to other destinations. And while I know in a small town the dangers and worries are on a much MUCH lesser scale than that of a big city – but I still wonder.
Years ago, my friends got on the wrong bus and accidentally got off at the wrong stop. Their parents searched for them for hours – and it wasn’t until an accidental run in with another friend did they discover their kids were, actually, ok. But what if they weren’t?
There are so many what ifs when it comes to kids. So many dangers and problems, and things you hope to protect them from. There are so many things you know you CANT protect them from. So many dangers and fears, and worries. So many things that you have to set aside to simply let them grow up. Trust. You have to trust a world that has offered nothing for you to trust in. But if you let yourself think about all the things that could possibly happen – you would never let them leave the house again.
You can only do so much, for so long, before they grow minds of their owns, and start making demands such as wanting to be left alone. And while you know they need this, something still pulls at you – What if? What if something happens. What if the bus gets lost. What if the bus drives off the road. What if it forgets them. What if they get off the bus – and another car doesn’t stop. What if they forget their stop, and get lost. What if they get kidnapped. Or hurt. What if?
And that’s just for taking a bus a few minutes down the road. What about when they get older. And want to drive.
Much of the same conversations I had a few years, are repeating themselves now. Why don’t you trust me.
And much of the answers are the same. Its not that I don’t trust THEM. Its that I don’t trust the OTHERS. I don’t trust people as much as some think I should. I don’t give people enough credit, and am not open with them as much as some would like. I don’t freely hand over the keys. I don’t know everything that goes on in this world, or this town. But I know enough to know that I don’t WANT to know.
I know enough to know that the sight of a yellow bus, and a small child is enough to send my mind into over drive. Because while the day may come that I feel I can trust Josh enough to take the bus to and from school alone – I fear there might not ever come the day that I trust everyone else. And that in doing so, I will hold him back. Somehow.
That by protecting him from what I can, I am holding him back. Putting a damper on his life. That because he doesn’t talk back like every other 9 year old out there, I am taking advantage and not letting him be free. I want to let him go, its not that I want to hold him back. Its that I don’t want to lose him completely, and the world around me has not proven that they can be completely and openly trusted.
I watched the little boy run down the road and wondered if his parents faced many of the same fears I do. Maybe they fought with the decision, willing to give him freedom without losing him completely. Maybe they had no choice. And maybe this wasn’t even a problem for them. A fear they never had to face. Sending kids to school is a part of life. Riding the bus -a right of passage. Its just something that happens.
But Im not quite ready to give up the small bit of control I have.
Im not ready to add another fear, and Im not ready to have to worry, once again, if he will make it home or not. And since he really isn’t complaining that much – I will keep on driving him to school, walking him in, and spend the rest of the day worrying he made it home ok.
Because its all part of life, and Im not going to complain.