In the recent storms this branch broke down by the creek. It's not just any branch. This tree and this branch used to hold the rope swing that kept my Woolly Mammoth son sane. He was nearing ten years old when we moved into the condo complex in 1997. He was drawn to the creek and the rope swing hung by some other kids. Soon he was spending all his afterschool hours on the swing, sailing above the shallow water near the storm drain. I was learning to trust this as a healthy thing for a boy to be doing. Sure, there was that one episode of poison ivy, but he lived.
In a couple weeks the Woolly Mammoth will receive his grad school diploma. He will still be sailing out over shallow water with his own sure sense of calculated risks. He knows that poison ivy in the winter has no telltale leaves.
In a less litigious time, the condo complex swim pool had a diving board for the Woolly Mammoth and his brothers. It's been gone as long as my kids' pool noodles. The first few summers we spent countless hours at the pool. For the moment the only users are teen mallard boys.
Sometimes I want to shake parents by the shoulders and tell them the goal of parenting is to LET OUR KIDS GROW UP! We have to give kids opportunities to make choices, to challenge themselves, to trust their instincts, to let go. I'm grateful to my kids for giving back the same opportunities.
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder