At the first tease of sunshine after what has felt like the longest, germiest, most snow-covered winter in human history, my kids and I made a beeline for a local park. I was shocked not to find droves of minivans parked in neat lines of parents and grands happy to let their kids run wild outside where they could shake off the stank from the season.
Where was everyone?
It was just us, a grandma and grandpa with a couple of littles and one lowly dad with his two daughters.
This park is a local hot spot. It has adaptive equipment, old school and new modern styles of play things, and sand. What kid doesn't love a good sand pit!?
I looked at the thermometer. Thirty-seven degrees. In Ohio, after the dead if winter, that feels like a steamy Florida heatwave. It is hard to remind myself that many parents don't encourage their kiddos to play in all kinds of weather.
After about fifteen minutes and ten degrees of warmth, the droves arrived and more kiddos flocked to swings and slides, their mamas, hair neatly beach waved and yoga pants appearing to actually be used for the exercise, within arm's reach.
Our kids are seven and nearly three. The seven-year-old is a calculated risk taker. He wants to climb to high heights and test his limits, but all within my line of sight.
Our three year old doesn't care if there is a slide made out of razor blades over a lava pit filled with hungry crocodiles. If she sees it, she's going--head first!
As they are growing older, with longer legs and faces that look more and more adult everyday, I'm constantly searching for opportunities to give them a little freedom--some room to run. Today, I endured sideways glances and judgy looks from Karen McNunyabusiness as I let our kids spread their wings a little.
'Okay Karen,' I seemed to smile as I yelled at Sparrow, "great monster roar, honey!"
Hey, capitalize on your strengths, right!?
The other moms' glances suggested I wouldn't be invited to any playdates in the neighborhood.
I was on a bench a few yards away writing and watching them play. Our son quickly made pals with a new kid on the climbing wall while our daughter played lava monster with the boys, squeeling and chasing them around swings and under tunnels shaped like sea animals.
Mamas, we can't hold their hands forever. Trust me, some days I wish we could, but these little ones are only ours for a few short years; fleeting moments where we can choose to hold on with a death grip out of fear or teach them how to walk and give them space to feel safe enough to run.