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Watch Your Words

July 30, 2018 - Stacey Sacco
Watch Your Words

When I was about twelve, my family took a vacation to Baltimore, MD. I have always loved maps, so when my parents picked up their AAA Triptik (please tell me you are old enough to remember what these are), they got an extra for me. I would study the map, plan our route and follow along as we drove past little dots of towns and exit signs. Before the digital revolution of GPS, I reveled in a map unfolded on my lap with the lines leading us exactly where we wanted to be.

As we approached Baltimore, my parents were discussing the route and I piped up from the backseat with my own idea. As a twelve-year-old from a small town, I had no clue that the reason there are interstates that circle large cities is because traffic is unbearable inside that loop. I didn’t know when rush hour started or ended. I had no concept of how big a city with 600,000 people really is. But I did know what my map said and I trusted it completely.

And for some reason, my parents chose to trust me just as much. My dad said, “Let’s go Stacey’s way.” I navigated each turn and on-ramp as we found out hotel. We didn’t get lost and I don’t remember too much traffic (although I’m sure my mom, who was driving, was not quite as confident). As I stood triumphantly at the correct corner in the middle of a city I had never seen, my parents congratulated me. They gave me power and the confidence through that act of giving up control and handing it over to a growing child. I still remember that day and that feeling of accomplishment.

I wonder if I am giving my kids similar tools. Am I using my words to create confidence and self-worth? Have I found a balance of challenging them and giving them autonomy, even when it affects the rest of the family? As Matthias reaches the age where he is stuck between wanting to be a kid and be taken care of and wanting to be an adult and make all his own decision, I want to be giving him the skills to find his way, with the rest of us following behind cheering him on.

I’ve put him in activities where he has to navigate new relationships with peers and adults. I try to manage him less and less all the time. I’m afraid he will fail and fall and blame me for not protecting him from this struggle known as “growing up.” I really want him to have success after success, but I do know that only failure after failure helps him change and grow and make better decisions next time.

Each year they have to be a little more responsible and as parents we have to let go a little more of the kids we still see as our babies. It’s not so much a defined line of progression as it is hearing one of them speak up from the back seat that they have an idea they want to try. And those adventures sometimes take us way off our original path. Sometimes we are lost and frustrated and tired and hungry with no end in sight. May I have the patience to think before I react so I plant words of confidence instead of seeds of misery.


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