Me: “Leave your binder downstairs with your backpack. If you forget it, I’m not coming back home to get it for you.”
The Boy: “I want it upstairs with me in my room. I put it by my door so I remember it.”
The Boy has a binder that he brings all of his schoolwork home in. For some reason, he insisted on bringing it up to his room when he went to bed. Me, in all my wisdom, couldn’t resist the fight. If I want to remember something in the morning, I put it by the back door where I know I’ll see it when I leave in the morning. I just didn’t get his reasoning & thus the fight began.
With the final words, “Why can’t you just do what I ask? Why is everything such a fight with you?” I stormed out of the room & downstairs to make lunches. Muttering to myself, I heard someone on the stairs. I knew it was him. He will usually come downstairs for a hug if we have an argument. But this time, he just headed back up. When I left the kitchen, I saw his binder downstairs with his backpack.
And I immediately felt like shit.
The truth is… I don’t trust my kids. I always know best. ALWAYS.
And yet… I don’t.
They’re getting older, these two cherubs of mine. And sometimes they have ways of doing things that work better for them than anything I could have taught them.
They come home after school to an empty house. And in the hours before I get home, they do their homework & any chores that I’ve left them. The Girl gets ready for swim team practice. And judging by their posts on Instagram, they have some time to relax. All without my presence & constant interference.
They come downstairs in the morning & feed the pets, get themselves breakfast & get their things together. Again, with no input from me other than maybe making them a cup of tea & if they’re lucky, toast.
They are growing up & becoming capable of taking care of themselves. That’s how it’s supposed to go. That’s how I know I’m doing my job.
Maybe not trusting them to do the right thing is my way of holding on just a little bit longer. I realized recently that The Girl will be starting high school in a few short months, and then I will blink & she will be graduating. The Boy not far behind her.
I’ve always told them that my job is to teach them how to live on their own. And not just how to cook & clean, although God only knows those are not strengths that I can pass on readily. (Laundry. I’m really all about the laundry. I got that nailed.) Teaching them how to live on their own also means helping them be strong, independent, morally decent people; how to make choices that will help them lead happy, healthy lives.
Who knew it would start with a binder?
I mean, if I can’t trust him to make the right choice about where to keep his binder at night, how do I think he’s going to grow into that strong, independent, morally decent person? That person isn’t going to just appear out of nowhere after years of mommy doing everything & always being right. I can suggest what I think is best, but ultimately, he needs to learn from his own mistakes. If he puts the binder in his room & forgets it the next day… that’s a pretty tough lesson. That’s all of his homework & study notes. It’s going to be a long day without those.
I picked up his binder & crept back up the stairs & into his room. His sleepy eyes opened & he looked at me skeptically. “What are you doing?” he said.
I put the binder by his door, pulled his blankets up & gave him a kiss. “I’m sorry. If you want your binder up here & you have a system so you won’t forget it, I need to trust you with that.”
It’s time to step aside & let them make decisions for themselves.
But I’m still not coming back home for the binder.