I have a confession: when I go grocery shopping with Clint, I spend the first ten minutes in mortal dread that he will suggest splitting up (which is his way of saying he's going to ditch me in the grocery aisles while he goes to look at the hunting/fishing/camping/hardware/anything but food section), and then I spend the next thirty-fifty minutes blissfully comparing prices and ticking things off my list, and then I spend the next ten minutes in a state of ever-rising panic as I look for him, pacing back and forth past all the aisles he could be in, never finding him until anxiety has spun my brain into cotton candy.
Maybe my mom lost me once in a store--I don't know. But being separated like that scares me, I think because I'm afraid I won't be able to find my way back.
So now, when my kids come to the grocery store with me--or any store--or the mall, they ask the same thing (so much like their father, aren't they?) (I'm talking Lauren and Jonah here--IF I take Jared, he stays firmly parked in the cart). And what should I say? Jackson is a small town, and they're probably safe to go to the other side of the store--they are 11 and almost-14, after all--but they're both SO CUTE, and even though I make them leave their "Please Kidnap Me: I'm Helpless" shirts at home when we go out, I still worry.
I worry the whole time we're apart, and I usually go looking for them long before our arranged meet-up time. Can't help it. I'm not a nervous person, really, but I know how amazing my kids are, and I don't doubt for a second that their inestimable value is clearly stamped across their foreheads.
So here's the thing I'm trying to wrap my brain around: Lauren just got back from a class trip to Chicago with her eighth grade class. And the rule was this: the students were allowed to explore on their own (at museums and on Michigan Ave) as long as they stayed in groups of three. Am I paranoid? I'm not trying to cast aspersions on her chaperones--I trust them all. But...Lauren's so cute! What Chicago kidnapper wouldn't want to steal her? Would two other girls be enough protection from such a villain? or enough deterrent from his fiendish schemes?
It's done and she's home and safe and had a fabulous time. Maybe I need to get a longer leash and hold her a little less tightly. She's going into high school next year, and she'll be one of almost 2000 students. She is smart and capable and a lot more mature than I think I realize. Yes. I have almost talked myself into being less sheltering (smothering?) (why is the word "smother" so close to "mother"?).
After all, I can just refocus my (ahem) sheltering tendencies on the baby. Well, the almost-three year old, who says he isn't a baby anymore at all, but a little big boy. He still enjoys a good coddling, and he certainly won't be leaving the cart anytime soon.