I heard on the news that a 10 year old girl drowned at Coney Island a day after our visit last week, climbing around the rocks after life guard hours. She and her little sister were pulled by people nearby, but she did not survive. I was just staring at those same rocks the evening before.
I think I’ve become more sensitive about adolescent pressures and the growing independence of the kids since the summer – not that those 3 things necessarily relate to each other, but they’ve all been on my mind lately. I wrote about independence a few months ago, but I struggled this morning thinking about middle school next Fall and the possible logistics of getting the girls to different schools at different times. I know that it’s still a year away and we haven’t even started the stressful middle school application process coming up in the Fall, but this was the thing I fixated on this morning. Ultimately, the kid will have to get to school by herself, like the majority of middle school kids in our neighborhood, but at this point in time, the concept of her walking around anywhere without me is something I can’t wrap my head around.
Sometimes I just want to hold on to my kids for as long I can, but I know I can’t protect them forever. After what’s happened recently, I have a new fear that didn’t really exist before, but they need to learn how to be independent too – to be able to navigate themselves in this crazy world, to learn how to cope with challenges, stress, peer pressure, and to learn how to survive. You can’t do any of those things for other people no matter how much you want. Isn’t that ultimately our job as parents? Our kids are growing up in a very different world than we did and most certainly will be adults in a world different from ours now too. We’re facing stuff as parents that no other generation has had to deal with before. In a way, we’re adapting and experiencing rapid changes in technology simultaneously so there isn’t as much hindsight knowledge to reflect on that might help inform us. Mostly, I think technology and the internet is positive and good, but we live in some weird times and there’s a lot of ill intent out there; childhood also feels shorter somehow.
P.S. That mural which has been the backdrop to so many photos I’ve taken of the girls over the years is being dismantled because of the structural integrity of the bricks. No one seems to know if it will be repainted again. Of all the things that have been disappearing in NY lately, this one made me really sad.