Wednesday, armed with a helmet and her own scooter, I let Munchkin scoot home from the Farmer's Market. While Monkey and his friend sped along the boardwalk, Munchkin struggled to keep up. She could move quickly but only for short bursts. Enjoying her freedom from the stroller, she also stopped to look at plants, rocks and dogs, lagging behind her big brother. Occasionally I'd surreptitiously move her scooter forward, but more often I'd wait for her to get back on her scooter and pull her down the walkway. Sometimes she'd protest and say, "I do!" Other times, she'd barely notice my hand on the handle as she scooted along. Towards the end of the mile-long walk, she started to ask me for help and happily plop herself on the scooter as I towed her home.
As I pushed and pulled her along, I realized that this journey home was symbolic of parenting. When kids are little, they want to do things they can't quite complete alone. Brush their teeth correctly. Put the right shoe on the right foot. They want to do it alone (No! I do!) but need a push to make it home. We show them the road, we guide them across the streets, we warn them of huge bumps and kiss their knees if they fall. Munchkin, so new at scooting, still needed a hand both to move forward and to stop. Monkey, however, was zooming along, already practiced in dodging big holes and maneuvering over bumps. Yet, he knew to wait for me to cross streets and count on me to soothe him after big falls.
We do our best to not only protect our kids, but to give them new adventures, teach them to push themselves, build confidence, take leaps of faith in their abilities. Parenting isn't just about watching our kids grow up, it's challenging them so that they experience new things and learn new idea so that they can grow up. It's about watching them fail before they succeed and always being there to lend a hand to help them reach their goal.