For those of you who don't know, I love and follow the blog Free Range Kids. The free range idea is to allow kids as much freedom as possible in the world, encouraging independence, and not being a hovering, neurotic parent who, by worrying and restricting, prevents kids from enjoying the kind of lives many of us enjoyed as children. Check it out.
Anyway, today at the grocery store, Livy reached a really cool milestone that makes me feel like she is getting so grown up. I gave her items off the list, and she went by herself through the store to find them and bring them back. She absolutely loved it! She felt so important, and she talked about it later with me and Aaron. She was able to do things I didn't think she could, like figure out which price label is for blueberries and which for blackberries and come to tell me the prices so we could decide which to get. She looked for the word "whole" to find the right milk. It was such an amazing moment for both of us.
Those of you who aren't parents are probably thinking, "Why on earth is that a big deal?" The thing is that most parents wouldn't let a 5 1/2 year old out of their sight, even in a safe grocery store in a safe neighborhood. Of course, I prepared Livy. We have talked about what to do if you get lost (first, look for me, duh, and then if you still can't find me nearby, find a mommy with kids or a lady without kids and ask for help) and what to do if anyone tries to get you to leave the store without me (scream, run away, yell "this is not my mommy or daddy!"). She was also prepared for this occasion by all the time she spent out in the world with me, watching me live life sensibly, instead of in school or daycare (Though I do think that conscientious parents can still raise reasonable free range kids who are in school or daycare, I just think it is harder work to undo the dependence.) She knows that the world is generally safe because she has spent lots of time in it. She knows how to behave in a grocery store because she has spent time in one. And, when the time comes, she will know how to be an independent person in the world without her mommy because she will have spent time practicing that while still in my household.