Daniel, who is eight years old, has been badgering us to let him walk the three blocks to school by himself. I'm not ready.
I've known for a while that this time was coming. Last year at this time, he was still holding my hand. Now he likes to walk a few steps ahead. I have to give him his hug goodbye before we are within sight of the school. When he walks into the yard, he doesn't look back.
A few weeks ago, I sent Daniel to the corner store down the block by himself for the first time. He came back clutching the chocolate chips he'd been sent for so tightly that half the bag had melted. And he was so, so proud.
Yesterday afternoon, Daniel asked Tim to ride ahead on his bike so that he could walk by himself. "Let me show you what I can do," he said. So Tim let him walk, circling the block a few times to check up on him and I waited anxiously at home for the knock on our door. Again, when he arrived home, my boy was so, so proud.
I remember the gut-wrenching anxiety I experienced when his brother was this same age and demanding to be allowed to walk on his own. In the years since, we have gradually given him more freedom and he's impressed us with his sense of responsibility - even in some very challenging situations.
It ought to be easier the second time around - and it some ways it is. I feel more relaxed as a parent since Sacha has acquitted himself so well. But I still worry every time one of my boys is out of my sight for too long.
Mostly, I don't like having to let them go. The days of thirteen year old Sacha sitting in my lap to watch a movie are behind us. Every hug from him is precious because they are doled out so sparingly. And Daniel is my baby. There are no little ones coming up behind him to help mitigate my sense of loss.
I know that kids must grow up and away from their parents. A big part of this whole exercise of parenting is about teaching them to be happy, independent people. I just wish it weren't happening so quickly.
And I still want to walk down the street, holding my baby's hand.