Coney Island, independence, and more rambling

July 30, 2014 |  Category:   life nyc parenting






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.

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  • Myla July 30, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Of all your blog topics, I enjoy the ones you do on parenting the most since I have girls the same age as yours. I know the world is a different place from when we were growing up but I always struggle with the lack of freedom we give our children today. It’s always a delicate balance between giving them some type of autonomy and making sure they are are and okay.

  • Renita July 30, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I know what you mean about the mural, its like your history being erased.

  • Helle (Helen) July 31, 2014 at 4:40 am

    Letting ones children gain more and more independence, letting them go out by themselves, especially in big cities like yours, must be one of the very difficult parts of being parents. But as you write, eventually one day it has to happen. But then, luckily most children learn to do it and are happy and safe.

  • mudslide cookie July 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for having another entry! It can get sooo boring at work…lol. But on a serious note…the world HAS gotten bananas…it’s gotten to where I cringe if I hear an ice cream truck coming around the neighborhood…

  • D. Bryant August 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Hello Jenna,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a little over a year and I truly enjoy your openness and honesty. It makes me think, reflect and explore my own feelings. I have a soon-to-be 6 year old daughter and can’t believe I”m actually writing the number 6.
    It’s very overwhelming at times, no matter how great our internal compass is as parents. We’re imperfect humans that yearn for guidance navigating this crazy world around us to maintain a positive outlook. After reading many of your recent blog entries especially since your brother’s death, my conscience has been encouraging me to share a source that’s given me, my family and millions of people around the world – young and old – real stability and security that brings peace, contentment and purpose. That simple source is our Creator who knows everything about us, why there’s so much suffering in the world and has a plan to bring real, lasting peace to the earth.
    Please take a moment to view the following 3-minute video ( and explore the wide range of questions/subjects covered – answers to the big questions we all ask no matter who we are.
    I’d be more than happy to talk further if there’s further interest. There’s real hope for the future as well as satisfying answers to help us live happy, peaceful lives in the meantime.
    Kind regards, D. Bryant – Brooklyn Mom + one of Jehovah’s Witnesses