About a month ago, whilst decorating and subsequently shifting furniture, we took off the top stair gate and decided that it was high time we left it that way. Small Child is almost four and whilst her bedroom door is the closest to the top of the stairs (poor planning which I now blame on pregnancy hormones), it doesn't mean that we need to leave it on until she reaches eighteen. On reflection, with thoughts of my attempts at teenage rebellion in mind, perhaps it should be left on until she’s twenty one!
Basking in my daylight hour bravery, I let Other Half stow it away in the attic both marveling at how much more open it made the landing seem and wondering how the hell we would ever get the indent out of the carpet. The twilight hours were a different story altogether.
Every night for the next week I lay in bed hanging on to the edge of sleep by a cotton wool thread, ready to jump out of my skin at the slightest hint of a noise. The noise that meant Small Child was about to wander sleepily from her room, be drawn by an invisible force towards the gaping chasm of the open stair way and for no sane reason, throw herself down it.
Of course this did not happen. Ever so slowly it began to dawn on me that never in three years had she even bumped into the damn thing but this was in fact just another symptom of over protective parent syndrome. Yes… my name is Thatgirl and I am an over protective parent.
How many times have I found myself saying Be Careful, Mind That …. (insert your dangerous object of your choice here), Don’t Run, Look Where You’re Going, Slow Down…. you get the picture. I hear myself repeating any combination of these thirty times a day, whilst glancing surreptitiously over my shoulder to check for the rolling eyes, raised eyebrows and tutting of nearby parents in recognition of the crazed, hyper anxious woman in their midst.
Just last night Small child and I had number seventeen in a long series of chats about dry night times and getting up to go the toilet as opposed to weeing in her pull ups then coming in to ask to go afterwards. Off I went to bed with visions of her trying to pull her jammies back on all alone in a dark bathroom, tripping over and knocking her teeth out on the toilet seat followed by a midnight flit to A & E. Of course, she was fine and this (seventeenth) time she actually managed it on her own and was the proud owner of a pair of bone dry Pampers this morning!
I think every parent feels this way to some degree and I think my special talent for it probably stems from her rocky start into the world that bought with it so much angst and worry. But she’s growing up and so am I.
I’m learning to let go, little by little which I figure is good practice for the years to come…. because boy do I need the practice!