There he goes

Way back last spring, Matt and Finn witnessed a traffic accident--a pedestrian hit by a car--coming home from the park across the street. It was fairly traumatic, as you might imagine. We tried to strike a balance between using it as a chance to remind him how important “street rules” are, on the one hand, and assuring him that the doctors would help the person get better, that there are always people who will help, on the other. It showed up in his play for quite a long time, enacting stories of a horse who got hit by a truck, or a lost sheep who got hit by a car and then the hero-ambulance-vet comes racing in to save the day. It also showed up in his prayers, frequently thanking God for the ambulance and for the doctors, and praying for the person who got hurt. Sometimes he didn't quite know what to say, and I would suggest some simple but earnest sentence that was almost always rejected. My favorite of his prayers was his tendency to sing, as in this little conversation I wrote down verbatim the night it took place:

Me: Well, we could say, 'God, please help the person who got hurt, that they will be safe and healthy.'
Finn: Or we could sing a song for that person.
Me: We could sing?
Finn: Yeah, a song could be a prayer. Like we sing before meals.
Me: You're right, bud. A song could be a prayer. Do you want to sing?
Finn: Yeah. (very confidently and definitively)
Me: What do you want to sing?
Finn: Jingle Bells.
(and then he began to sing, very quietly, very reverently) Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in a (mumble mumble) sleigh-hey!
Me: Amen.

Anyway, all this is on my mind because that accident was the first of several incidents that called upon new parenting skills—skills of helping Finn deal with the world beyond our home, a world we can't control. And now, since moving here, those skills are constantly in demand. He has, somewhere in recent months, become a full-fledged kid, and we are constantly negotiating the boundaries between freedom and oversight, between giving him space and keeping him close, between helping him interpret the social situations he encounters and letting him figure it out.

Now we have a yard—can he go out alone if I'm on the porch? What if I'm inside, or upstairs with Willa? How often do we check in? He's fast and confident on his bike, easily able to ride to town. But how far ahead of us do we let him get? We live on a campus where there are lots of faculty kids, who have lots of freedoms. Can he go outside with them after dinner? What if our neighbors are there, two older, responsible, kind girls? Or what if another faculty boy is there, also older, not-so-responsible and not-so-kind?

This was Finn's first week of preschool, a new social world he is entering without us. And although it is a very safe, nurturing environment, and I really have no fears for him, it is still bittersweet to let him go, knowing he'll experience things I might never know about. I'm thankful for his long periods of play at home, time that I can observe and listen in on, getting a sense of what's on his heart. And I'm thankful for our ritual of "thank yous" before bed. Tonight's list? "Thank you for my bike, thank you for xxxx (the not-so-responsible and not-so-kind boy), and thank you for sitting like a pretzel!" (collapsing in giggles) I think we're going to be just fine. 

1 comment:

MooreMama said...

He seems so BIG. I can't believe that he's less than a year older than Callie.

Also, I totally feel you on the whole balancing independance and protection thing. Thankfully (ha!) because of the way that Callie's birthday falls, she won't start school until next year. She could totally handle it, but I'm not ready.