I’m kind of overprotective. Joe is 11 1/2 and I, just in the past three months have started to allow him to go into a men’s public restroom by himself IF there is not a family bathroom available. This is after I open the door, take a step in and holler to see if it’s all clear and then stand impatiently at the door giving the stink-eye to anyone who enters while tracking how long it takes my son to do his business. If he takes too long (in my opinion), I will open the door and holler “ARE YOU OKAY??!!??” until he answers me which is usually as he’s washing his hands. Keep in mind I don’t think it’s ever taken him longer than one minute to pee and wash his hands, but at the time, when I’m nearly flop sweaty and worried about him, it might as well be one hour. I know people think I’m crazy, but terrible things can happen to young kids alone in a restroom, just read the news. God help me if he ever has to go #2.
We don’t let the kids play alone outside in the backyard. Both of them have to be outside playing and if one comes in, unless I’m in the kitchen where I can see them, they both must come in. I don’t want to not know where they are at all times. I understand too that my time with this kind of control of them will be ending soon. But I wonder am I strange? Surely I must be.
We have a couple of little neighbor kids, one is in Kindergarten and the other is in 2nd grade and they literally run our neighborhood from the time they get home from school to the time it gets dark. This scares the crap out of me. This morning as I stood in my driveway seeing my two kids onto the school bus I saw these neighbor kids heading to school on their bikes. On. Their. Bikes. I got panicky just looking at them and then I wondered, am I literally insane?
There was a time when kids walked and rode their bikes to school without inducing anxiety attacks in their parents. Kids used to even walk to the convenience store for pop for their parents but a little girl in our city who was kidnapped and killed when I was a teenager put the kibosh on anything like that for my own children.
While I’m overprotective in some ways, I probably get judged for other things I let my kids do. We don’t let them watch PG-13 movies unless we’ve seen them and deemed them okay. But I admit, we’ve seen all the Transformer movies and all but one of the Twilight movies even as I rally to shield the kids from most violence and sex, I’ve had my moments of lax parenting. I also let my kids watch “The Simpsons” but not “Family Guy”. Lizzy and I love “Glee” but I always pre-screen it before she can see it and there are plenty of episodes she doesn’t get to experience.Joe likes to watch “Fringe” with Kolin and I think that’s okay even though that show can be weird. I guess I think these things are okay because we are right there watching with our kids and explain anything that they don’t understand.
We don’t shy away from talking to our kids about life in general. I don’t let them play violent video games (or many video games at all, mostly because the kids don’t like them), I’m picky about the movies they can see (mostly), But when pop culture or school brings up an issue like sex or drugs or violence we don’t avoid those topics.
Much to Joe’s chagrin we’re open about things like what happens during puberty. He’s already had the “human growth and development” talk from us and gets the official school version later this week. But we’ve already discussed sex with him as well. Not in graphic detail (more clinical than Cinemax), but he knows where babies come from and how they are made. Lizzy has had her own age appropriate version of “THE talk” and we’ve answered her embarrassing questions like, “Why do you have hair THERE?” and “What’s a tampon and why do you need it?”.
Joe and I recently discussed the importance of surrounding himself with the right kind of friends in school after a kid brought a gun to the middle school Joe will most likely attend next year. We talked about choosing friends who make good choices about avoiding drugs and violence and how important that is to staying safe at school – any school. I didn’t want to freak him out, but just help him understand that keeping himself out of bad situations will help him in the future avoid potential tragedy.
Elizabeth sometimes sees someone on television (even Disney channel) wearing something that I wouldn’t let her wear. She always twists her face askew and says, “Mom, that outfit is inappropriate.” Yep, it is. Remember that. No toddler and tiaras for her. No “sexy” make-up and spray tans. No acrylic nails. No short skirts or plunging necklines. She’s eight and I want her to be just the age she is. No more or less. And even while she longs to be older so she can wear make up and drive a car, she knows in her gut that kids should be kids and when they’re made up to be something older, it’s just, weird.
These aren’t lectures, but discussions with our children. We really do try to protect them as much as we can without sheltering them to the point of being completely naive of the world. We surround them with love and acceptance and honesty. We freely admit our mistakes to them hoping they can learn from us without having to make the same mistakes themselves. But if they do, they know that we will love them, NO MATTER WHAT. I’ve told them that there is no mistake they could make that would ever, ever make me not love them. I could be sad or disappointed or angry, but my love would always be there.
Recently Joe told me that some moms are more protective than me which shocked the hell out of both me and my husband. “Why?” I asked him. “Well, some kids don’t get to go fishing and hunting like I do with Dad because their parents won’t let them,” he answered. So that was his rationale. Because some parents don’t let their kids fish and shoot guns (at targets in Boy Scouts), I’m permissive. Alrighty then.
Until they discover otherwise, I will keep up my overprotective ways.
What do you all think? Am I nutso?