Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You want to play outside...In the street?!!!

I'm excited spring is here and I'm looking forward to the summer with my kids. But one day last week I started thinking about what's to come. My excitement shifted to a slight feeling of anxiety.

The weather was perfect, so it was time to gather up the kids and head outside. Once out, I noticed the street was full of kids playing, riding bikes, throwing balls. But it was different from previous years. I realized that James Charles wasn't going to be on the sidewalk watching the big kids play. He was going to be amongst them.

Audrey and I were watching him trek along the sidewalk on his tricycle when some neighbor kids came over and said the words we all remember growing up: "Wanna come play?"

I thought I was ready for this, but it turns out I was caught a little off-guard.
We live in a safe neighborhood--I'm not going to deprive my kids of playing outside. But I didn't realize how scary this new stage in his childhood was going to be, for me.

Up until this point, James Charles' playtime had been solely controlled by myself and there were definite boundaries. We'd go on playdates, play at the park, zoos, museums, libraries, friends' homes. It was easy to keep an eye on him and know exactly what he's being exposed to. Now I've got to add front yard, driveway and the street (eeek!!!) to that list.

Yes, I admit I'm scared of the street.  I'm trying not to be the mom that hovers and seems to fear everything, but look, I'm new to this. Some kids on my block have the freedom to play in the street, unsupervised. One boy is five and has a two-year-old brother. It makes me nervous when I see cars drive by as they're playing in the street. They're good kids, but I can already tell that their freedom is enticing to my 3-year old. And that's not the kind of freedom we will give him for a while--a long while.

All three boys had a good time riding their Big Wheels and tricycles down the sidewalk for a bit. It's nice watching kids play together, even when they barely know each others' names. Meanwhile, I pulled out some chalk and sat in the driveway for a few minutes drawing a little for a restless Audrey. (She's not walking yet, but is busier than ever).The boys came over and asked to join us. 'Good,' I thought. 'Distraction from playing in the street, at least for now.'

That night, after bathing our chalk-covered kids, Jason and I talked about how we're going to handle James Charles playing outside. We basically came to the conclusion that we'll be spending a lot more time outside from now on to ensure he has a good time and stays safe.

Wow, my boy is truly growing up and this is just the beginning. I took him to "Tarjay" a couple of weeks ago to get a few summer pieces. I automatically went to the infant/toddler section, as I've done all his life, only to discover that he'd graduated to the "Boys" section. My heart sunk a little seeing more proof that my baby boy isn't much of a baby anymore.

1 comment:

Tatiana said...

He has grown up so much! Every time I see him I am wowed by how much he has learned and now knows. As long as you and Jason are watching him, he will be fine. I know it is scary having kids in the street. Even though I don't have any children, I know from a drivers perspective how scary that is. I always get nervous driving down certain streets that I know will have children playing outside because I'm afraid one of them will run across the street suddenly without looking while chasing after something. Children are unaware a lot of times because they are just thinking "play, play, play!"