Sunday, January 17, 2010

Throwing caution at the wind

I keep saying how my parenting experiences with Jesse are so different than what I went through during Jennifer's early years. Today I was reminded of just how different.

Today, I wanted to take Jennifer out to PlayLand while I got pictures printed. Somehow, Jesse figured out we were getting ready to leave. He ran to get his shoes, held them up and happily said, "Bye bye!"

My heart sank as I frowned at him. "No, Jesse. No bye bye."

At this point, Jennifer suggested I take him with us. After all, at the age of 2, he was now old enough to go into PlayLand.

Of course, I perished the thought. I told her there was NO WAY I was leaving him in there. She reminded me of how it was so hard for me to leave him at the nursery at church the first time, and of how he was just fine when I picked him up again. I told her this was different. Don't ask me how, it just was!

All this time, I was comfortable with the decision to wait until he's 3 to take him to PlayLand. I mean, he's not even potty trained yet! But now this decision was being challenged.

Jennifer promised me she would look out for him, that she would take care of him. I just wasn't ready to leave an 8-year-old in charge of my baby. But at the same time, I told her it didn't matter. I didn't feel good about leaving him in the care of a stranger. With Jennifer, as a baby she was left with a parent or relative if I had to go somewhere. I don't have any family here in Eugene and not a friend who I trust enough to leave my children with (not anymore). The people who work at PlayLand are just wonderful but what if they couldn't handle a 2-year-old? He was still so small! And he has temper tantrums; were they ready to deal with that?

I finally told Jennifer, "I'm not ready to throw caution at the wind with you kids."

First she wanted to know what "caution" was. After I explained, she assured me things would be okay.

I finally gave in. "All right, but I'm going to stop by and check in on you two." And that's what I did, too, when he was in there. He was fine, really. He ran and played. I could see him laughing. He looked like he was having so much fun. He even sat at a bench with Jennifer and the caregiver as they all colored together. (I think she got tired of me asking "is he ok? is there any trouble?" She kept telling me he was fine.)

Later, after I got the pictures printed and bought dinner, I collected my children and was soooo relieved to have my baby back with me. Yes, I got through it and, yes, he really WAS fine. But it was so hard to be away from him during those 55 minutes. I wasn't able to tell if I'd be willing to do that again. Um, maybe next year.

Sure I'm willing to throw SOME caution to the wind, when it comes to my children. I do that every day I drop Jennifer off at school (and say a little prayer that she'll be okay and deal with missing her later on in the day). And I do that when I leave the kids with their dad.

I'll let them go sometimes. But just a little bit. And only for a short while.


Anonymous said...

oh gosh i know how that feels. I never did leave Isabel in the grocery store play center when she was little, I just could not do it. I remember arriving in Washington and seeing this playcenter and i asked my hubby, "what do you think about that?" and he said, "I think it sucks" And so we never left Caitlin or Isabel there. Now looking back, it might have been fun for them but we were way to fearful. I think its good you let them go for a little while, you have made them more independant and in the end thats what we all want, our kids to feel safe in the world.

Dawn Colclasure said...

Thanks, Nancy. :) I know I need to be able to rely on Jennifer to watch out for her little brother if we're not around, but it's just that I'm not sure she's ready for that yet. Maybe she is. The reason I finally decided to let him in there is because Jen will be "graduating" from it soon (they enacted a stupid height system) and so this was her only time to be in there with him, something she has wanted for a while. I DO want my children to be independent and have good social skills. In fact, one bonus is that Jesse got to interact with other children, something he doesn't get a lot of at home. But it's just so hard when they're so young.