“Mothers from miles around worried about Zuckerman’s swing. They feared some child would fall off. But no child ever did. Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will.” ~Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
I knew this day would come.
Like any other morning, I walked my daughter up to her school. Moments before we reached the schoolyard, one of her good friends came up beside her. They walked onto the schoolyard together, immersed in their conversation. Like any other morning.
Except it wasn’t like any other morning because every other morning she had given me a hug and a kiss and said “Bye, I love you!”
But this time, she didn’t hug me. In fact, as she walked onto campus, she didn’t even give me a cursory glance over her shoulder. She forgot to say goodbye.
A little voice inside of me said, “Wait, don’t go.”
I watched her walk onto campus and get swallowed up by the crowd of upper grade children making their way to their lines. And, at that moment, I thought of Charlotte’s Web when all of Charlotte’s little babies created balloons of silk and floated away in the warm updraft. I understood Wilbur’s sadness but also remembered the line when one of the spiderlings said, “We are going into the world to make webs for ourselves.”
I’m glad my daughter likes school and has friends she enjoys. Still, as a parent, it’s hard when that moment comes when our children want to take flight. We don’t want them to go. However, having independence is a necessary part of growing up.
Recently, my toddler has started going on the big kid swings. I don’t push him too high and I’m always there to make sure he doesn’t fall. However, he never does because he always hangs on tight.
Sometimes, we don’t give our children enough credit for what they can handle. We think they won’t make good choices, that they won’t hang on tight enough.
As parents, it’s our job to give them the tools to equip them so that they can make good choices. Just the other day I was talking to my daughter about characteristics to look for in a friend. We talked about how friends shouldn’t exclude or boss you around. Friends should be kind, helpful, honest, loyal, and supportive.
It's lessons like these that we have to weave into our daily conversations, so our kids will be prepared for the moments when they will be out in the world without us.
Still, I can't prepare my children for every circumstance or trial that may come their way. And, I know at some point, my children may stumble! However, if we prepare them for the ride, for the tangled web of life, hopefully, their fall won’t be too hard.