With sunny skies and weather warm enough that we could ditch our jackets, it felt like Spring had arrived today. Les, Luc, Finny and I went for a swim before picking Molly up from school. Our friend Kate Hill and her daughters Sophie and Hannah, who just moved from Edinburgh a few weeks ago, met us at the playground of Molly's school.
In what's probably a typical Vancouver ritual on the first warm and sunny day of the year, it seemed like every kid from the school was out in the playground this afternoon. This made for a really new dynamic for Les and I. In the past, Molly and Finny would usually play with each other, with no more than one or two other friends around. They would usually stick close to us, so supervision was easy.
With three quarters of Molly's Kindergarten class out and about the dynamic was really different. For the first time Molly was part of a gang.....making her a little bolder and more willing to wander beyond her....and truthfully OUR...comfort zones. This "letting go" is a part of parenting I have read and heard lots of talk about, but so far haven't experienced much of. But today, as Molly ran, played, hid and wandered about with her friends, I realized she had reached a new, more dangerous stage. I now need more skills- a greater attention span to be able to know at all times where in the vicinity Molly is, while at the same time trying to help Finny on the climbing wall and holding Lucas back from getting in the big kids way.
This experience also made me realize that now is the time to teach Molly some skills we have been putting off. One parent pointed out to me that he doesn't let his boy run in the bushes around the school after he saw some used needles there. Pretty sad, but it's a fact of life here. I know I can't keep Molly insulated from all these type of possible risks but I at least owe her the duty to educate her on reasonable risks she might encounter. So I called Molly over from the game she was playing in the local shrubs and talked to her about the dangers of touching dirty needles. She had lots of questions and a concerned look on her face as I explained things. As her concern grew I started to wonder if I was already too late and that she had already played with some junkies' discarded paraphernalia. I was quite relieved to find out that her concern came from the fact that she had been playing with some pine needles that had fallen to the ground. Poor girl, her dad hadn't given a very good definition of needles. Talk about innocence!
What is the right amount of protection vs. freedom to provide kids with in a big city today? It's a difficult question to answer but something I am sure we will wrestle with over the next few years.