We live across the street from our local post office. It’s amazing.
My oldest child (5 years old) is the type of kid that absolutely needs her independence. She thrives when given opportunities to do things by herself.
Recently I’ve had several packages to ship off to friends and family, and getting to the post office with three kids in tow can be extremely challenging, even if it’s right across the street!
So I let my 5-year-old take another independent leap by sending her on the errand for me, by herself.
With the package addressed and ready to ship, she walks across the street alone, $5 tucked safely in her purse to pay the shipping fees.
She’s been on enough errands with me that she knows what to do. She knows how to wait in line and ask for help at the counter when it’s her turn. She’s pretty good at exchanging money and keeping receipts safe for the travels back home.
The first time I sent her I watched out of our family room window for the entirety of her visit, just to make sure everything was okay. But as time went on, I trusted her more and more with her abilities and didn’t pace by the window waiting to watch her walk back home.
One day after coming home from her post office errand, she told me the lady working at the counter asked her where her mom was. I asked my daughter what her response was and she said, “I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything.”
It got me thinking, what would the correct response be?
Her mom was right next door.
Her mom was observing from afar.
Her mom was teaching valuable life lessons.
Her mom was providing an opportunity for independence.
Her mom was showing a high level of trust not only for her daughter but also for the postal workers and other patrons in the building.
I don’t think the worker meant any malice when asking the question. I’m certain after assessing the situation, she realized my daughter was there to run an errand for me and was in no way distressed or neglected. It takes a village to raise a child and our sweet postal worker was only making sure my daughter was okay.
But we’ve also transitioned into a more stressed and scared society, causing us to be wearier of letting our young kids do things for themselves. 50 years ago no one would have thought to even question her. This pushes me to allocate opportunities for my children to find independence throughout their young lives so that they can grow up to be contributing members of our society.
By sending them on errands by themselves, within a reasonable distance from our home.
By letting them go into the library alone to return and check out books while I wait outside.
By picking out and buying their own ingredients and supplies at the grocery store for the cupcakes they’ve been wanting to make.
“Independence is not a static condition; it is a continuous conquest, and in order to reach not only freedom, but also strength, and the perfecting on one’s powers, it is necessary to follow this path of unremitting toil.”-Maria Montessori
Photo by Matheus Bertelli