August 21, 2012

Bubble Wrapped

I worry that since my daughter requires a lot of my attention due to medical and developmental issues, that my son pays a price. Though, so far he’s yet to be jealous of his younger sister and in fact, he plays a monumental role in nurturing her.

I couldn’t be the parent I am without him and his “lion heart.”

And so I hold onto him, with all my heart. And my two arms, wrapped tightly around him.

Some might say that because my youngest child has special needs and has had her share of medical emergencies, that over-protecting my older child is a natural response.

I suspect however that I’d be just as controlling despite the trauma and trying times with our daughter. I’m a worry wart by nature and a controlling Capricorn.

But, if I don’t learn to let go and allow my kids a little independence, I WILL become the mother from Robert Munsch’s “Love you forever,” breaking and entering into their homes nightly to cuddle them without their (or their spouse’s) permission.

I recently discovered “Bubble Wrap Kids” on the Slice Network. I watched the first episode, tsk-tsking the over-protective mother featured on the show. She runs her ten year old son’s bath, cuts up his food and won’t let him ride a bike for fear he could fall.

I’m nothing like that. I let my son run his own bath, though I lecture him constantly about stepping in and out carefully and insist he remains on the bath mat until he’s fully dry. Hello, wet bathroom floors are treacherous. I let him ride a bike, but admit to obsessively reminding him about watching for cars backing out of drive-ways and requiring him to stay within sight at all times.

Hmm. It seems I *may* be a Bubble Wrap Mom...

As an experiment, last week I allowed my son to ride his bike around the block alone. Twice. He was so exhilarated and proud that it broke my heart a little. Why hadn’t I allowed him this simple bit of freedom sooner?

So on the heels of this milestone, I made another decision. “I will no longer cut up your grapes,” I announced over dinner (to eye-rolls from my husband who clearly doesn’t appreciate what a huge step this is for a Bubble Wrapper). He obviously isn’t aware that whole grapes are one of the top ten choking hazards for kids. Have you ever seen a classroom at lunch time? Laughter, kids bouncing around, talking and yelling – prime choking conditions.

When I told my son he could now enjoy full grapes he said, “Oh thank goodness. It’s so embarrassing. Carson asked why you cut them up. Then he said you were... um...”

What was I? A concerned and loving parent? A skilled grape cutter-upper? One of the most attractive mothers in the class? What??

“He said you were...stupid.”

Stupid? The “S word?!” Part of me wanted to march down to the school and ask for that child to be moved far away from my darling son. But the sane part of me knew that would be a one-way ticket onto the next episode of “Bubble Wrap Kids.”

Sometimes out of fear, we over-protect, which in the end doesn’t teach our children to learn from their mistakes, to figure it out or to take care of themselves.

I’m not perfect, but I’m trying. Slowly but surely I’m learning to remove the bubble wrap and trust that my son will be fine.

My daughter on the other hand, is only six and I have TWO layers of bubble wrap around her for at least a little while longer...

Originally posted April 30, 2012 on Barbie I Can Be 

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