When our helpless newborn babies are put into our arms, we have to do everything for them. And we enjoy doing everything for them because we like that that is our job...helper, protector, nurturer.
I have noticed a trend with myself, as well as my friends, that as our "babies" grow up, they are capable to do so much more than we ask them to do.
It starts in the chores we give them. We may forget to increase responsibility as they get older. Perhaps because it doesn't occur to us that they can do more for themselves. And whether they realize it or not, they WANT to do more.
This becomes more and more clear to me each time I watch one of my children have a new experience. It is one of the best reasons that, although I am a strong supporter of home schooling, I am glad to be sending the boys out into the world for their education. Other people see our kids as one of a group and ask more of them sometimes than we do. Perhaps because they are not so personally connected to our "babies".
This weekend, on a whim, I asked Noah to go get the laundry basket, take it to the basement, empty the dryer of clean clothes into it and bring it up upstairs. I was expecting a complaint. What I got instead was a basketful of clean clothes upstairs ready for me to fold. This morning, as I headed downstairs to start two more loads, it was Noah who was begging to go do the laundry. They have been sorting and putting their own laundry away for over a year now, but it was the first time that I realized that they were indeed ready for even more.
And then along comes Aaron this morning asking for juice. Out of curiosity, since I was in the process of writing this post, I responded with, "Sure Honey, go ahead and get it." Sure enough, he went to the fridge, got it out, got out his own glass, poured it, drank it, put the juice away, and cleaned up his dishes.
It is so hard to give our kids the independence that they are craving. Either we don't want to believe that they are ready, or we're just not ready to admit that inch by inch, these Little People are turning into Big People right in front of our eyes.
And then there's the POWER TOOLS.
This past Friday night, Noah's cub scout troop all got together to build a bridge. The troop is very new (only it's second year) so they need a ceremonial bridge for the senior cub scouts to cross over in preparation to becoming boy scouts in fifth grade. They wanted all of the boys to participate in the building of it, which I thought was a really neat idea.
So we went over, and the dads that were in charge did a wonderful job rotating all of the boys so they had a chance to participate. I was thinking that it would be simply having the boys pound a few nails.
But I was very wrong.
Apparently, seven year olds are old enough to not only learn the rules of power tools, but also the ability to use them correctly and safely with minimal guidance. By the end of the night, Noah was rotating the three different drills needed for each hole without much help at all. I have a feeling that a lot of these moments are going to arise out of cub scouts. It's a good way for me to learn even more about letting go, as difficult as it is for me.
But all this being said, it doesn't mean that I'm happy about letting go. It's weird how it's so exciting to see them becoming more themselves and less of us yet so sad at the same time. This will probably become a theme this year as my "babies" continue to grow.
But I can still go in while they are sleeping and take solace that my "big boys" are snuggled deep down in the covers with their arms around their favorite stuffed buddies. At these moments, they are still my "babies" after all.