One of the things The Who’s new teacher stressed in his letter home to parents was the growing independence of our kids this year. He encouraged us to let our kids take more responsibility and risks and celebrate the achievements and suffer the consequences that come from that. And although I have historically been the parent that runs the left-behind lunchbox to school, I am up for the challenge. And as tonight is the eve of second grade, I decided to let The Who know that I was consciously making a decision to let him take more responsibility. First, we had a long talk about Facebook. I know this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with anything, but I think it actually does. 

Over brunch, I explained what Facebook actually is. He thought he understood it, but I knew there was more to it. Specifically, the particulars of having different levels of privacy (including the fact that nothing on the Internet is actually ever private) and what he is actually saying yes to when I ask for his permission to post something. I told him the three things I would never post (him naked, him sleeping, him using the bathroom) and explainedthe possible repercussions of posting anything online at all (using the potential employer scenario.) I also explained the difference in my level of privacy vs. say, m*’s. And I let him know that I would be giving him a lot more say-so about what gets published. (He gave me permission to tell this story.)

The other thing he did today was  grocery shop. Now, listen. The Who is no stranger to the grocery store. He’s been my shopping companion since forever and he could probably drive us there himself if I let him (but that’s a rein he won’t be taking for several years.) He is also no stranger to independently getting what he wants. He is often given a $5 bill and sent into a Dunkies so he can choose his own snack as I watch from the car. On several occasions he has run into Starbucks for me to pick up an order I placed electronically. He is outspoken, a problem-solver, and a strong reader. He can figure things out. So, today I gave him his own list and the two of us set off in opposite directions, each with our own carts. 

Of course I kept tabs on his whereabouts and I didn’t let more than 5 minutes go by without having eyes on him (even if he didn’t see me). Sometimes, I even said hi to him as I passed to see if he needed help. (Once, he did. He couldn’t figure out how to work the scale in the bulk candy aisle. One of the perks of independence is getting to choose to buy bulk candy as part of the three off-list things I allowed him.) I’m betting, though, if I hadn’t come upon him in those moments, he would have figured it out or asked someone for help. A few minutes earlier, I had spied him gazing up intently at the store directory, deciding  where to go next. Resourceful, that one. 

The experiment was an unqualified success. He got everything on the list (even sussing out that even though I said “clear solid” deodorant, I actually meant “invisible solid”) and decided on his own that he thought he would like to try honey wheat bread instead of our usual whole wheat. 

The end result: he felt proud of himself, I felt proud of him, and to be perfectly honest, I felt proud of me.  His baby steps are becoming giant leaps right before my eyes. 

Bring it, Grade Two. 

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