As I was gathering clothes and swim suits for camp, I asked Grey if he wanted a swim shirt since he got burned at the beach. I’ve tried explaining to him that we’re ultra white people and that we burn before we tan. His ancestors were Scotch, Irish, and German, so does he really think he’s going to beat the odds and actually get a tan??? Apparently he does because this same argument continues from one week to the next.
Me: “Is this swim shirt ok for camp?”
Grey: “Mom, no more bubble wrap!”
A short pause, then:
Me: “Bubble wrap? This isn’t bubble wrap.” I know bubble wrap and this wasn’t it by golly!
Grey: “Yes, it is! Stop protecting me from everything! I’ll be ok. I’ll wear sunscreen (as he had in Florida when he turned into a lobster) and I’ll be fine. You don’t have to protect me from everything you know. I’ll be ok.”
Me: “Umm, wow. Are there any other “bubble wrap” issues I should be aware of?”
Causes of the Bubble Wrap
You see, once upon a time, I was a very protective mom, but I had my reasons. When I was 30 weeks pregnant, I went from working out on a Saturday to being on complete bed rest on Monday, where I stayed for the next 6 weeks. I took medicine around the clock, even setting an alarm to make sure I got the dose during the night, otherwise the contractions would come back with a vengeance. Walking from the living room to the kitchen caused contractions, and sometimes sitting up instead of reclining would cause contractions. I fought long and hard to keep that baby percolating as long as possible and apparently it triggered some irrational need to protect him from everything.
Grey also had a hand in forcing this bubble wrap issue. When he was a toddler, he could open any childproof lock or bottle lid. He had amazing dexterity and since he was my first child I didn’t realize how amazing it actually was until another mom pointed it out.
He climbed out of his crib at 14 months, so we put a canopy on top to keep him in. He quickly learned how to unzip the canopy to make his great escape. I then safety pinned the zipper shut and he just as quickly learned how to open the safety pin so he could unzip the canopy. He could unlock deadbolts on our old doors (not an easy feat) so we put hook and eye locks at the top of each door.
I started calling him Greydini because of his disappearing acts and he wasn’t even 18 months old yet. Can you imagine what this boy got into over the next few years??? “Oh my” is all I can say.
Bubble Wrap Isn’t Healthy
Yes, I’ve been protective and on occasion over protective, but I thought I had done a good job of letting go over the last few years. I knew while “bubble wrap” may make us feel like we’re good parents, it’s not healthy or beneficial to those who are being protected. So I started backing off, giving up control over the small things, learning to trust that he could handle these things. It was a slow and painful process for me, but I thought I had been doing a pretty good job until he pointed out otherwise.
Why didn’t I see this coming?
You see, I’ve been preparing for when we would no longer be cool parents.
And for when he would start thinking we are dumb as dirt.
I had been preparing for him learning how to drive, and for when he went off to college.
But I hadn’t prepared for Grey asserting his independence as a tween. I never realized how soon I would have to start letting go of these bigger things so that he could start to grow into who he needs and wants to be.
Friends, it’s hard and it’s scary, and I didn’t expect to get to this point for another couple of years. I keep wondering if he listened to all of those heart to heart talks and all of those life lessons that I’ve tried to impart. I keep wondering if I’ve given him what he will need to make good decisions or to be responsible after making poor decisions because I expect those to happen, too.
You see, it’s not just about a swim shirt. It’s about everything. He feels the need to make his own decisions in more things than I want him to and I know that’s partly because I’m not ready to let go.
It’s not a question of “Is he ready?”, but more a question of “Am I ready?”
I still hold the reins for now, but I know it’s only a matter of time that I’ll be watching my first born learning to fly on his own. It will be just as scary and just as awe-inspiring as when he took his first steps.
It will be just as scary as watching him climb a tall tree and then sit in it happy as a lark as I waited anxiously on the ground. I’ll have to keep reminding myself that he made it down safely…all on his own.
I’m glad I have some mom friends who will be going through this with me and some who have gone through it ahead of me so we can all commiserate together. And I’m glad I have you readers who will hold my hand and tell me it’s going to be ok.