Every day after I pick Peanut up from school, we head over to the charter school, to pick up her siblings. We have about twenty minutes of free time while we sit in carpool, so she usually asks to go play on the playground. I love watching her run across the black top and instantly make friends with any unsuspecting child that happens to be around.
One particular day a couple weeks ago, the playground was iced over. I contemplated telling her to just sit in the van with me, because I worried about her getting hurt. "Sit with me, Peanut. Sing me a song. Tell me what you did at preschool today. Do you know any funny jokes?" But..I didn't. Something in me decided to let her go.
So, off she ran...little pony tail bouncing with every hop, skip and jump...and you know what?
Climbing up the ladder (because the stairs wouldn't have made more sense, would they?), right at the top...she fell.
I jumped. My hand on the van door, I was prepared to run to her. Scoop her up. Check her over and make sure she hadn't bumped or bruised or scraped anything.
But...you know what?
She didn't even look back. She didn't look for me to make it better. She didn't look for me to brush her off. She stood up, on her own two feet, adjusted her coat...and climbed that damn ladder again. I eased off the door handle, sat back and tears filled my eyes.
My job as a parent is to raise them to stand on their own two feet. I'm raising them to be self sufficient. I'm raising them to trust themselves and their own judgment. Good decisions are great...poor decisions come with lessons. Poor decisions also come with the chance to try again. I'm doing my best to teach my kids to always try again.
That comes with the parental price of not being needed anymore. Not all the time, anyway. One day she no longer needed me to tie her shoes or to help her put on her sweater. One day she no longer needed me to pour her a bowl of cereal or a glass of milk. One day she no longer needed the training wheels on her bike.
One day she will no longer need me to help her spell "Merry Christmas". One day she will no longer need me to help her comb her soft little curls into piggy tails. One day she will no longer need me to help her reach the top of her closet or to cut up the chicken that my little vegetarian child won't eat.
One day, that day, she did not need me to catch her. To fix her. To stand her up and brush her off.
She may not have needed me that day...but I know there are other days that she will.
I'll always be behind her, cheering her on, as she stands on her own two feet.