Letting Them Go

When I was a kid, about ten years old I think, all I thought about was going out on my own. Getting that independence was so important to me and I couldn't wait to see the world by myself. By the world I meant my local area but, you know, start small and all that. Not once did I consider how my parents coped with me being on my own, I didn't ask how they felt about it and, if I'm honest, I didn't care.

How do you let them go?

Back then there were no mobile phones, no tracking devices. When you were out no one was able to contact you until you returned home. If you got in trouble you had to deal with it, on your own. It was scary but exhilarating. Being allowed out on your own gave you a chance to learn in a way that you hadn't done so far. 

Fast forward 25(ish) years and now I'm the parent with the ten (almost) year old asking when he can go out and about on his own. He wants to walk home from school on his own, he wants to venture into the world and be independent. And me? I am absolutely terrified by the thought. Anytime I think about letting him out alone I panic and wonder what he would do if he got into trouble. No one has taught him and no one would be there to help. Even as I sit here in front of the computer screen my stomach turns thinking of him on his own.

Now imagine how I feel about my boy going on a week-long trip with school. Yep, petrified. It has been coming for months and I was the one that encouraged him. It sounded like a great opportunity to learn new skills, see some great sights and enjoy time with friends, all with some supervision from teachers. I was happy to sign consent forms and pay for the trip and didn't really think about him actually going away.

He leaves next week. At 6am on Monday morning I will be waking him and making sure he is ready for the week away. I'll smile and tell him to have a great time but inside I'll be screaming. My stomach will be doing somersaults, my heart will be aching and I'll want to cry. I know that he's really excited about going and he'll have a fantastic time, maybe even have some stories to tell when he returns, but none of that makes it easier to cope with the fact that my first baby will be out on his own. 

Given that he's not allowed to take a mobile phone I won't hear from him until he returns on Friday evening. I really don't know how I'm going to cope. I have LP to occupy my mind but I know that he will miss his older brother and probably spend a lot of time asking me when he can go on trips alone. I'm not even entertaining that idea yet.

This weekend will be spent packing and making sure he has all his things ready and when he's in bed I may well have a little cry. The coming week will be the scariest time I have spent as a parent so far.

Have your children spent time away from home? If so, how did you cope?


  1. Anonymous22:02

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  2. My oldest is 15, and Autistic, so thats a whole different kettle of fish. My middle is 14, and we moved back to london when he was 11. His Mum thinks in very much the same circles as you do, and for a year or two, so did I. Then his Mum went on hols for a month, and I couldnt take him, his brother, and his sister in to school. I checked with him that he was ok to walk himself, and his brother to school (The schools are next to each other) and he was. So we started with a 5 min walk in and back each day. admittedly he was older than 10, but each child is different, and he hadnt wanted this beforehand. Then, we started letting him go to the corner shop by himself. This meant a main road cross (which as he has very little spacial awareness terrified his Mum) and interaction with strangers (though, they know me, and so, by default know him). Then, following that, he started to get the bus once a week for an appointment he has. I spent 4 trips making sure he knew the way, following at a distance, there and back. Now, he walks to the supermarket and back. BUT, when I was a sprog, with my 5p in my pocket for an emergency phone call, I used to circle a good 10 miles away from home. I travelled into school on the train each day from the age of 11. I took myself to school from the age of 8.
    We tell ourselves it was a different world. It wasn't really, its just all the bad things never made it to media!
    Ack, thats not a happy note to end on.
    While he's away with the school, he'll have staff worrying constantly where every child is, that every child has eaten, and is enjoying themselves. School trips are nothing to fear.
    Cub camp however...

    1. Well BP has been away for 4 days now and I think about him pretty much every few minutes, wondering what he's doing and if he's safe. I know he is totally ready for his freedom and it's me that wants to keep him close. I think the idea of allowing him to do shorter trips is a good idea, or follow him some of the way.

      No one warned me how stressful this parenting lark can get. No wonder my parents are all smiles now that I'm a parent - they know it's my turn to experience that agony/elation/wonder etc. It's all a learning experience. You're right, the school trip thing is probably the best way he could have a little more independence. At least the teachers are there.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)


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