Here's the truth:
I'm a lot more over-protective than I'd like to admit.
Helicopter parenting makes me bonkers, while the term free-range-parent is music to my ears.
But that was all before my son met the four-wheeler.
I first heard about it after a weekend away from my son. He and his father (I refer to my husband as "his father" anytime the two of them are getting into trouble, which happens to be more and more frequently) had gone down home (my in-laws' house) for a weekend of hunting and shooting and other city-absent activities.
I called my in-laws' house to check-in, and it was no surprise that my son and his father were unable to talk because 400 acres of pure nature are much too inviting for two trouble-making boys (I refer to my husband as a boy when he is getting into trouble with my other boy. Again, this happens to be the case more and more frequently.)
So my in-laws gave me a few updates, assuring me that both boys were doing well and having too much fun to be missing me (as evidenced by the neglect to check-in with us girls).
But in talking to my in-laws, I was suddenly blindsided with a tidbit of information that only a city-girl can appreciate.
My son, my itty-bitty baby boy, had been on the 4-wheeler. And by 4-wheeler, I mean 500 pounds of off-roading DANGER.
I tried to pull myself together. Inside, I was spinning. All I could think about . . . Was he strapped in? Was he wearing a helmet? Was he, was he, was he ALIVE?
Can you tell I was raised in the city?
Fast-forward to that evening when I FINALLY spoke with my boys, and I was able to address my
irrational and ridiculous rational and normal concern excitedly and fervently calmly and gently with the boy's father my husband. He listened (bless his heart), and he agreed to waiting until I was ready before my sweet, sweet boy could ride the death machine again.
You would think we were deciding on whether or not our son was old enough to ride his bike all by himself to Seven Eleven. Or use his allowance to buy a M-rated video game. Or borrow the car to take his girlfriend to a late night movie.
Breathe, Ali, breathe.
Needless to say, I had some settling down to do.
But something happened as I began to settle.
I started to realize that I wasn't really afraid of what could happen. In fact, my fear had nothing to do with my baby falling off the beast-on-wheels.
No, instead of fearing head trauma, my fear had everything to do with letting go. Letting go of my baby. And knowing that part of my job as parent is allowing him to have experiences that have nothing to do with me.
Sure, there was the possibility that something terrible could happen to him. But he was in the care of his grandparents and daddy who love him more than words can express.
And it's that very love that makes letting go of my little man so heartbreaking.
Knowing that my baby is beginning his journey as Henry, not as my baby. And the fact of the matter is that I won't be there for every Henry moment.
So when my son and his father went back down home for another weekend of weapons and dead turkeys, I didn't fuss. I didn't whine and search for excuses why my baby shouldn't ride the four-wheeler.
Nope. I gave in.
And if I couldn't be there to witness another of my son's Henry moments, I insisted that they at least take lots of pictures.
I love you, boys . . . both my son and his father :)