Tag Archives: Independence

Leaving My Safety Net: A #LessonLearned by Shannon Pruitt

Shannon & her kiddies

I “met” Shannon Pruitt from MyNewFavoriteDay at a Super Secret Underground Facebook Society. I still can’t even believe she noticed me. I mean Shannon is a machine. She has this super huge Facebook presence with sixty-four bajillion followers, but we started chatting and she asked to interview me for her blog. Whaaaat? Interview me?

But that’s how Shannon is. She makes everyone feel noticed. Special. Recognized. Affirmed. Her goal is to have people recognize the most precious moments in their lives so that time doesn’t pass us by. She wants us to appreciate all we have in each day. And she succeeds.

Like the sound of that? Read her blog and follow Shannon on Twitter at @newfavoriteday.

{Oh, and if you want to read the interview Shannon did with me at her place, click HERE after you read her fabulous, nostalgic post.}

Click on the teacher lady’s elbow to see other folks who have posted in this series!

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Leaving My Safety Net

I remember Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” was playing through the computer speakers when J came to sit down behind me.

A look of concern had been the constant mask glued to his face as of late. I knew he knew something was wrong, how could he not know?

He shifted my hair across my back and put his hands on my shoulders.  I stared at the screen in front of me, scared to move, scared to speak.

The words were there on the tip of my tongue.

I have always been impetuous in some ways. When I spontaneously changed my major to Japanese my Sophomore year in college because I thought it would give me an advantage over all the other business majors, I didn’t think through the ramifications:

1) I would have to stay in school an extra year,

2) I would then need to spend some time in Japan to make it all worth it, and oh yeah

3) You had to be in class 5 days a week, and I was already paying for school and working full-time.

It would seem my impulsive nature was code for “not thinking things through.”

J quietly shifted in the chair and said, “What’s wrong?”

I choked on the lump building in my throat.

“It’s us. We are what’s wrong.” I whispered.

His hands fell next to his side.

“I’m not happy.  We’re like roommates, best friends but roommates. We’ve only been married four years. I don’t want to be just roommates.”

The words tumbled out of my mouth and I knew in my head and, in my heart, I wouldn’t turn back now.

J was my safety net, a sense of home, a rock in what had always felt like a tumultuous sea of self-preservation.  He stepped in, became a real love, a love that I could call home. When he asked me to marry him I was 23 years old, and we’d only been together for 6 months.

I said yes.

He moved to Japan to be with me and we stayed there for another 18 months. When we came (to where) so I could go to graduate school, he went back to manage the restaurant where we had met.

And I started to sprout wings.

Little by little, year-by-year, my little bird-wings strengthened. And, with each year I flew slightly further from the nest, from home, from him. I was full of passion and excitement about life.  J loved me so much, he would do whatever I wanted, go wherever I went, and love me no matter what.

But I longed for life and experience.  I wanted to fight with him sometimes. I wanted him to fight with me. I wanted him to fight for me.  To tell me No! I couldn’t leave. Nothing was wrong with “us.”  It was me.  I could be happy with him, we just had to try harder.  He did not say these things.

He let me cry. He cried too.  He let me leave.  He let me walk away.  I walked.  Had I not, I wouldn’t have the wonderful life I have to today with my husband and children.  In that moment, had he fought, perhaps the impetuous me could have been tamed for a little while, and the lesson could have been a different kind of growth.

Instead, I reached out eagerly to a new experience 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles.

Some days, I still miss the nest. But I am glad I followed my heart; for had I not, I would have missed all of this life.

Have you ever had to leave someone you love to find freedom?

Tweet this twit @rasjacobson

Can You Leave Your Kids Alone?

Muppet Feet by irreverentwidow @ flickr.com

My mother left me alone in our house when I was in 4th grade. She would sometimes make a quick run to the grocery store and I would watch (torture?) my younger brother for about an hour before she came back home with the goods. By 6th grade, I was making pretty good money as a regular babysitter to several neighborhood families. (When I say “good money,” I mean I was making $1/hour to watch up to 3 children – and sometimes even a dog with a bladder problem.) I would typically arrive at 6 pm, make the kids dinner, entertain them, feed the dog, help them get into pajamas and brush their teeth, get everyone into bed and have them sound asleep by the time the parents came home around 11 pm or so! Pretty responsible for an 11-12 year old, right?

Last year, my husband and I started leaving our (then) 9-year old son alone in the house for little chunks of time. We didn’t leave him for very long. Maybe hubby and I wanted to take a walk around the block after dinner or stop and chat with some neighbors. That kind of thing.

Since things went so well, we gave our li’l monkey greater independence this year. Sometimes he comes home from school, and I’m not home. He knows how to get in, how to make his own snack, knows to get his homework done. He might (or might not) practice his piano. He knows not to let strangers in the house. He knows what to say if someone calls on the phone. I’ve been feeling mighty good about m’boy who has morphed into a pretty confident and competent little person.

That said, I’ve been catching a little grief from people who seem to think that age 10 is simply too young to leave a person “unattended” for any length of time.

Most people have heard of Lenore Skenazy. The author of Free Range Kids, she’s the chick who let her 9-year old son Izzy ride the train from Bloomingdales in the middle of Manhattan to their home in Queens without a cell phone (and she wasn’t even secretly following him or anything. She simply believed he could do it.) Was Izzy too young to take the Subway? Hell, he did it!

I’m not even putting my kid on a train or a bus! He’s happy to have a bit of time alone in the house. And I’m seriously wondering, what could happen to my kid in our home? Why is everyone so worried about him? About me? About my parenting skills? After all, my mother trusted me to stay at home and watch my 6-year old brother when I was 9 years old. Think about the first time you stayed home alone? How old were you? Chances are, if you are over 40, you were about the same age.

So I’m curious: When is it okay for a child to stay home alone for the first time? And would you hire a 6th grade babysitter these days?