Apron Strings: To Cut or Not to Cut?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lately I've been feeling some tugging on my apron strings. Tyler is pulling, asking for more independence and trust. I'm a little afraid to give it to him, but also conscious that I don't want my own fears to infect him. I don't want him to second guess himself or not trust his instinct because he hears my voice inside his head.

A few weeks ago at after school pickup, he asked if we were walking home and was disappointed when I said no. Then he asked if he could walk home alone. Of course my first thought was "hell, no." But my clever boy played me like a violin. "You could drive along next to me." I didn't have a good reason to say no to that. Darn him for being so smart.

I thought about it for a few seconds and said yes before I changed my mind. We went over checking the driveways to look for cars backing out, what to do at the crosswalk and which way I wanted him to go to get to our neighborhood. I had him wait for me at a point just beyond the school's driveway.

I pulled the car around and waved. He set off. I'd let him get a little ahead and then catch up to him. I was hoping I wouldn't make the light at the intersection so we could go through together, but I did. I pulled over just across the street and craned my neck to watch him cross. Seeing my little guy on the busy corner brought a mix of emotions. I was anxious, proud, scared of the other driver's and happy he was following directions so well.

After he made it through the crosswalk I went home and waited for him. When he walked up the driveway, he was grinning ear to ear.

"That was fun, I want to do it again!"

Phil and I talked it over and he's OK with Tyler walking home if some of the other parents agree, too. We'd feel better if Tyler walked home with a buddy. I was all set to to agree and tell Tyler he could start walking home at least one day a week. He's going to be in fourth grade and will turn nine just after the new school year starts. 

But then I saw a story on my local news about a nine year old who was run over and pinned underneath an SUV. He owes his life to his backpack and bike helmet. Now I'm back to my original, "hell, no" with a side of, "not in this lifetime." I told Tyler, actually I apologized, that he doesn't have the same childhood we did. When I was a kid we roamed, didn't check in with our parents and didn't need to have pre-arranged play dates. I wish Tyler could experience being a kid the same way we did.

I know I have to let go. It's time. It's the right thing to do if I want Tyler to be self reliant and independent. But dang it, I'm not ready! My apron strings are fine just the way they are.

How old were your kids when they started walking home from school?


  1. This is the problem with 24 hour news--that type of thing happened when we were kids, too--we just didn't know about it.

    Statistically, him walking home is safe, but I agree buddy system is still in order. Does he have a friend where they can walk to one house one day and the other house the next? You can pick him up there just as easily as at the school.

    My kids biked in 4th/5th grade, but they had each other, so that makes a difference.

  2. It's so true that we had such different childhoods. I get mad at my 12 year old daughter for not carrying her cell phone with her at all times, yet when I was a kid I'd leave the house and go play outside with my friends until dusk. I did not have a cell phone and rarely did I need (or want) to call home and check-in. And I survived! I also walked to and from school from about 6th grade through high-school. I can totally relate to your feelings. It was such a different time back then! :(

  3. @Jenn - I know. Kids have been walking home for ages and accidents happen every day. I think it was the similarity between the boy on the news (age 9, similar appearance) and the timing that did me in.

    @Courtney - It is a shame things are so different.


Thank you for visiting and letting me know your thoughts!

copyright melanie sheridan 2009 template design by Studio Mommy (© copyright 2015)