The Radical Act of Bearing Witness

This weekend is Hamilton’s James Street Supercrawl which is a fabulous annual street festival to promote music, art, dance and culture in Hamilton’s north end.

SupercrawlMichael is two weeks into grade 7 and is right back into the swing of his social life after a fairly quiet summer. He has been out every day after school this week until at least 5:30 and is enjoying the freedom and fun of friends. After a quick check-in after school yesterday we didn’t see him until well into the evening (and even then, he was texting his friends while playing on the Xbox).

When Michael arrived home last night, he announced plans they had all made to go to Supercrawl this afternoon. My initial reaction was one of those non-committal parental responses that is so annoying to the child; ‘we’ll see‘. Michael told me that Max had been allowed to go out with his friends to Supercrawl in grade 7, so why shouldn’t he?

Michael knows me well enough to drop the subject and to give me time to think. And, it was after 8:00pm!

By the time I went to bed last night I had given it some thought and (pending Simon’s agreement) had decided that there was absolutely no reason that Michael should not be allowed to go down to Supercrawl today. It will be broad daylight, he will be in a huge throng of people (lots of them friends and neighbours), and in a big group of friends. He also has a phone and could reach us at any time.

Nervous MotherAnd so, a few minutes ago, I dropped him in the north end.

As Michael was getting out of the car, my stomach started to tighten with the angst of letting my baby boy take yet another step farther away and I found myself getting a little fluttery. To cover my nervousness I started firing ridiculous safety tips at him; ‘don’t get separated from the group’, ‘if anything happens I can be there in 5 minutes’, ‘don’t eat anything you are not sure of’.

My parting safety pearl was that I would wait in the car until he texted me that he had made contact with his friends and to call if anything happened. Michael gave me an adorable grin complete with eye-rolling and said; ‘mom, I’m in grade 7, I have a phone and I’m fine.” I agreed that I was being a little over protective and a tad nervous. He gave me an awkward hug and a big kiss through the window of the car and turned to walk away.

He did turn back once to give me a little wave and my heart broke with love for him.

I will admit that I watched Michael until he rounded the corner. And as I drove home I reflected on the Radical act of bearing witness to my children growing up and learning to fly on their own. There is absolutely no rational piece of me that wants to hold them back. However, there is that little corner of my heart that wants to wrap them all up and keep them close like a fierce and protective mother bear.

I must say, though, that there is nothing quite so adorable as watching your child walk away from you with a spring in his step and the heady feeling of freedom bursting in his heart.

Go, Michael, go! 🙂quotes-thich-nhat-hanh-02-600x411

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