Help! My Kids Are Having Fun and I’m a Nervous Wreck…
What would you do if your phone rang and you find out that your 7 year old son had been in an accident while riding home from a school field trip? Would you panic or remain calm? Would you rush to the scene of the accident or stay put until he arrived back at school? Would you allow your child to go on another school trip? To some this may have been hypothetical, but for me it was reality.
I had hesitantly allowed my son to go on this field trip even though I could not chaperone. I did, however, ask a friend to go with him. Knowing she was with him allowed me to focus on my job; until my phone rang. In the time it took for me to answer the call my world turned upside down. I was instructed to stay and wait for him and nearly 3 hours later he was safely delivered to my door. And I was able to breathe again.
For a brief moment I thought maybe I could home school him so that he would never leave my side. Then I could take him on field trips and he would be safe; well at least safer than he had been. My husband squashed that notion, school ended for the summer and life returned to relative normalcy.
But come fall, my children were back in school and once again bringing home those field trip slips. I tried to find reasons not to let them go but none was good enough so I signed the forms. In my mind, I knew it was what I needed to do but my heart was screaming “don’t do it”. School children take field trips all the time and the likelihood of disaster striking is remarkably low, I know. However, I threw that common sense thinking out the window the very minute my kids hopped on that bus. Somehow I was supposed to go off to work all the while knowing that my kids were off gallivanting around, er...experiencing some extracurricular learning with their peers and their teachers.
I packed extra food just in case, and when my daughter came home she shared her embarrassment when she pulled out an extra jacket and socks from her backpack; “Seriously mother, nobody else had socks in their backpack; you need to stop”. I couldn’t help myself; I am a world class worry wart. I used to go into my kids' rooms at night to make sure they were breathing. Trust me that becomes a problem when your teenager wakes up to find you bent over them trying to feel their breath.
The first time I sent my daughter to the store alone for milk and bread I nearly lost it. By the time she returned I was ready to throw a Welcome Home party. And I could write a book about the difficulties I had when she went off to college.
While it took me a long time to avoid hyperventilating at the site of a permission slip I do understand that in order for our children to grow and learn independence we have to allow them to do so. Life is full of anxious moments, none of which can be controlled by parents. Allowing our children to participate in organized trips or activities will not only heighten their knowledge, but will help forge the pathway for independence and social growth which is necessary as adults.
As parents it's our responsibility to be prepared by sharing emergency contact information, keeping track of their itineraries and making other pertinent information accessible in the event of an emergency. Encouraging our children to enjoy themselves -- and not sharing our anxiety with them -- is also important.
***And speaking of worried moms, Denise Richards plays a mother searching for her teenage daughter after a class vacation goes awry in Lifetime TV's newest original movie Blue Lagoon: the Awakening. While the story takes on a romantic twist much like the original movie, the mother in me could not help but think about how the trouble could have been avoided as well as how desperate their parents must have felt not knowing where their children were. Tune in Saturday, June 16 at 8pm et/pt.