As I've spoken about earlier, I realize how one of the most important and difficult parts of parenting is allowing your child independence and overriding your drive to protect from EVERYTHING. Sometimes parenthood is anxiety-provoking. There are definitely things I protect my son from, but it's sometimes a hard decision to know when to step back and when to step in.
A while back, I got a membership at a gym and one of the reasons I picked this gym is they have lots of activities and classes for kids. This is ideal, so while I get to work out, my son gets to play basketball or soccer or whatever class they have. The first class there was some confusion and my son ended up in language arts instead of basketball. He was NOT happy about this and did not want to go back to the "Sports Club". The next time, I coaxed him to try it out again and tried to stay a while and make sure he got to where he needed to be. I maxed out the "parent stay time". I came back to pick him up and told him I couldn't stay in watch so he needed to come with me or I needed to go away. "Go away," he shouted at me. I was actually happy about that because I knew what I intended had happened- mommy and son were having fun and getting exercise. He has subsequently told me to "Go away" even when this is not necessary and I could stay a little and watch his class. He learned independence is fun and he doesn't want his mommy to pick him up early.
Included in the gym membership were a couple of swim classes for him. We normally take him to swimming class at our community pool where it's most likely my husband (or occasionally myself) going into the pool with him. He's not always compliant or thrilled about this. I wasn't exactly sure how the gym swim classes were going to go because they don't have the parents come in. I arrived early with my son to the pool and actually played with him for about an hour in the water. Then he went over to meet his new teacher and I was a little alarmed that they actually put these three year olds in the deeper swim lanes which are well over my sons head. They put the kids on these underwater platforms and they swim from platform to platform. I definitely didn't want to leave my kid on that platform. Everything in my mommy gut says that you don't leave your kid unattended near deep water.
Just as I'm sure the mother goose has to put things in nature's hands and hope that her offspring has the self-preservation skills to learn how to swim, I had to trust that my son would know well enough to not jump off or let go of the platform. Knowing my son well enough, and knowing he doesn't even like to get his head wet gave me some assurance he wasn't just going to jump off the platform, but it was still nerve-wracking. As I saw him playing with (and flirting with) the two little girls in his class, I saw him having fun and more importantly I saw he had a good grip. My son at some point is going to have to learn how to swim, just as he is going to have to learn how to drive and I'm going to have to hope that the way I have raised him and the small increments of independence have taught him his mom is not a ball of anxiety. I hope he learns the anxiety I do pass on to him is a form of self preservation and protection.
And about learning how to drive- I humored someone last week when I told them I had a plan for assuring that my son does not text when he is driving. They also were nervous this would be something their child would do- my solution- give him a car with a stick shift.