I asked my oldest child, he will be fifteen in a couple of weeks, to take my three and a half year old daughter to the park for a bit so that I could get the dishes done. This was his first time taking her out of the yard, all on his own, and into the big wide world. He did not hesitate. She literally jumped for joy. I try not to place my insecurities upon them. They don't have a clue how I was feeling about it. And how was that, you ask? "Eek!" about sums it up.
My son is very responsible and kind. He is aware. He is trustworthy. My daughter is outgoing and sweet. She can also be very temperamental, sassy and at times, down right defiant. I knew that my son was ready to try and I really needed the help. So, I watched them walk away, hand in hand, down the hill and out of sight, happily together. And I am just fine. Full of mixed emotions, yes, but still just fine. So what's the big deal, Ginny? What are you rambling on about? Are the things you are thinking, I'm sure.
I know it is normal for older siblings to watch younger siblings. It will not be the last time that I ask him to. I also know that I love all five of my precious children more than I could possibly ever describe to you. They are my whole life. When I ask my son to watch my daughter, I will not take for granted what is truly happening. One of my beloved children is keeping the other out of harms way. Not only will he make sure she gets to the park and back safely, probably without falling or getting too badly hurt on the playground...he is also, in a way, putting his life on the line for her. He is keeping her from being struck by a vehicle or snatched by a kidnapper. He would probably place himself in harms way in order to protect her. He would take a bullet for his sweet baby sister. To me, this is a ridiculous thing to ask. Sometimes the feelings inside of me are just too much. I love them both very dearly and I don't want either one of them to be hurt or wronged or taken from me.
When I go out for the evening and my oldest is in charge for a little while, were the house to catch on fire, he would try his hardest to save his four younger siblings and get them out to safety. Deep down in my heart I think, "How is this fair?" and "What about him and his own safety?" He is just as important to me as the rest of them. As a parent, I have to let go of these fears. I have to decide that these thoughts are not going to cause me to shelter the children more than necessary. I can not stunt them because I am afraid. And if, heaven forbid, something ever were to happen on his watch, it would be up to me to make sure that he understands it isn't his fault and to never hold it against him. If the house burned down and he couldn't get in to save them or made the decision that it was too dangerous to try, I would have to trust his judgement...because by leaving him in charge...that is what I am asking of him. His judgement.
I know, I know. These are ridiculous thoughts. The chances of these things happening are very unlikely. But the truth is, I am a mom. Moms worry too much. We over think. We drive ourselves a little crazy when it comes to the love and safety of our cubs. And then...we let it go. We slowly cut the strings and send them into the world to try.
So, the next time you see a kid walking down the street, taking his little sister to the park and then out for ice cream (with his own money, too cute), please know that it is not "nothing." To a mother, out there somewhere...it is absolutely everything.
|Image from: http://askmissa.com/2010/10/14/big-brothers-big-sisters-mentoring-a-little-makes-a-big-difference/|