She forgot her hat for school.
We were already well on our way, and to go back home again would make us all late.
I was annoyed.
Before I left the driveway of our home, I did the morning check in my mother-matron voice, “Right. Does everyone have everything? Shoes, lunch box, hat, drink bottle, everything? Yes? Yes? Good. Let’s go.”
A way into the 20 minute drive to school, I glanced in the rear view mirror at caght a glimpse of my daughter (turning 12) itting in the middle seat, and it suddenly occured to me she was the only one of my children not wearing a hat.
“Do you have your hat?” I checked.
She gasped. “No.”
We were too close to the school to turn around.
I sighed. “I can’t go back now.”
“It’s okay Mum. I’ll deal with it.” I appreciated the owndership in her response.
One of the best and hardest lessons I’ve realised in this parenting journey, is allowing my children to learn consequences through life situations. The thing is, I don’t like my kids to suffering any pain, including consequences of choice and life challenges, but it’s such an important (and so very often the best) way for them to learn.
However, there are two sides to each coin. I allow external consequences to run their course, especially as my children get older. For example, sitting out at lunch time at school because a hat has been forgotten. BUT, I also want to be my child’s hero sometimes, to be there to just pick them up again, and set them on their way. We all need a bit of that sometimes.
There’s a place for both…but the trick for me is knowing when to be what: when to allow consequences to ride, and when to be the hero and scoup them up to take them a few steps ahead on the game board. How much easier would it be to parent in black and white, yes? But alas: it’s not so simple. So when I’m deciding in a moment what action to take as a parent, I look at 2 main things: situation and attitude.
In this partiuclar situation, it was easy: I wanted to be the hero. You see, it was my daughter’s first week at a new school, plus I could tell by her response that she was willing to cop it and didn’t go on with a string of excuses. I really appreciated and respected that; good on her. But I didn’t want her to have to face sitting out at play when she was settling in at school.
After a pause in the conversation, I asked her, “Do you want me to go back for it, after I dropped you to school, and drop it in to you?”
“Yes!” she replied quickly. “I’m sorry to inconvience you Mum.”
I went home again, got her hat, wrote a sweet little note and put it inside. Then, I went back to school, and left it there, ready for the first break.
Since I wrote this post, there have been (but rarely) other times where she has forgotten her hat and I didn’t come to the rescue. But for this time, I was glad to be the hero for my not-so-little-girl.