Finding My Balance. Again.

So as part of Lovebug's birthday celebration, I took him and a couple of friends to the local trampoline park

and to his favorite diner and Dairy Queen and for a sleepover and to another kid's birthday party the next morning, but that's another post

for an hour. While there, we encountered a couple of his classmates. The kids hung out together for a while

my favorite thing about middle school is the relative ease with which they can pick a few friends to do something special with instead of having big birthday parties. I like parties, except for the fact that my budget necessitates inviting a reasonable number of kids  but my heart wants to invite every kid in the entire grade and all their siblings. 

and I noticed something odd. The classmates' parents were not at the trampoline park. Like I was all excited to have someone to talk to and then I realized it was still just me and Words with Friends.

I love the Lightning Round game on the updated version, though. 

It hadn't occurred to me that I could just leave them at the trampoline park, which is quite well run and littered with fairly kind teenage workers. But it feels different than letting him walk to town with his friends during the day time.

Okay, he usually does that with Ironflower and her friends, but still. 

He's also stayed at our local lake in the summer when I've taken Hugmonkey home, but again, that felt different. Maybe because the lake is littered with parents and lifeguards he knows and only members can get in?

Yes, I think that's it. Even when they're in town, my kids know that they can go to Ironflower's dance studio or their orthodontist's office and find a reliable adult that we all know. Same thing at the lake. We discuss what to do if this or that happens, where they can go if they're worried or whatever.

And yes, we could have that same discussion about the trampoline park or the movie theater in the town next door. But I can't rely on a local parent or dance teacher or swim coach being there. And that makes me uncomfortable.

Perhaps I am my over-protective mother's daughter after all.

Of course, my mother was over-protective in that she didn't let me bike to our local lake to swim by myself when I was 11. I couldn't walk into town with my friends until 5th grade. And she made me wait until I was 12 before I baby-sat for the neighbors. Not exactly over-protective by today's standards. 

It was so much easier to encourage their independence when it meant taking off their own shoes, or ordering for themselves in a restaurant. Now shit is getting real, and suddenly I'm like those moms who used to baffle me. You know the ones I mean, the ones who babied their kids so much that the kids entered kindergarten without being able to put their coats on.

Is my discomfort hampering my kids' independence?

I don't want to send them off to high school unable to put on their coats, or whatever the high school equivalent is. But at the same time, I don't want to be one of those parents at the other end of the spectrum, either. You know, the ones who started potty training at 18 months or pushed their kids to read at 4. I've always believed in child-led milestones.

Except for that time I pushed potty training on Hugmonkey before he asked for it, so he could go to that preschool at 2 and a half. That was a disaster. 

Lovebug and his friends did not seem to mind that I was at the trampoline park, but I don't think they would have noticed if I'd left, either. I think, as far as the trampoline park is concerned, I'll wait until they ask me to leave them there and then I'll re-evaluate the situation.

I feel like I was easily able to find a balance between pushing and hindering when my kids were younger, but now I'm bewildered and new all over again as the parent of two adolescents.

What's your take? When did you start dropping your kids off places?

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