On Being Led out the Door – Another Lesson from the Eagles

I was intimidated by her. I’m not sure why.  But somehow her large frame, tightly groomed white hair,  hand-knit sweaters and lack of eye contact with me triggered insecurities that lay deep within. 

She was my four-year-old son’s Montessori teacher.

On his second day of school, I walked with him into the classroom to help him put his lunchbox away. She looked right at him and in a steady quiet voice said,

“Charlie. Please lead your mother out of the classroom.”

And he did.

This was my first encounter with what has been my toughest challenge as a parent: learning that my children are better off without me in their learning spaces – and many other spaces in their lives. 

As a mom, I wrestled stubbornly with the transition from being my sons’ “everything” to being the person they had to lead out the door and close it quickly.

This lesson was brought to light again as I sat and read the Acton American-Statesman this morning over coffee.

This newspaper is owned, written, edited and published by our Acton Eagles. We never see what is written until it hits our “inbox.” I am merely a subscriber.

In today’s issue, Addie, a Launchpad Eagle and editor-in-chief, wrote a review on Clark Aldrich’s Unschooling Rules. In it she says:

“Children, however much you may love them, need to learn to be independent. Your high schooler does not want you at their party, or their sleepover or their dance… etc. Neither does your middle schooler. Your fourth and fifth graders probably don’t either. And babying your first, second and third graders won’t make them self-sufficient human beings who can discover and learn for themselves. By all means, spend time with your kid. Just don’t hover.”

Does this mean I shouldn’t hang around my boys’ poker nights? I think so.

Thank you, Addie, for reminding me yet again about the truth that is harder to grasp than I ever imagined. We must be brave enough to give our children their own space. Their own relationships. Their own lives. 

None of this means our children don’t need us. They do. They need our love, our encouragement, our respect, our care, and our trust. By giving them space without micromanaging their details, we also give them much of what truly feeds them.

I am grateful for these teachers in my life even when the learning has been hard. If you want more lessons from the wise Eagles, subscribe to the Acton American Statesman. It may be the best newspaper out there for a jolt of the truth. Ping me to get the details: lsandefer@actonmail.org.