Single Mom Slice Of Life:
Teaching Our Children How To Fall

Awhile back, I sat in a park and watched some kids play (my kids were there too… I wasn’t just watching kids randomly), and watched as a little boy who was running, trip and fall.  Flat.  Not once did he even try and put his hands out in front of him to break his fall. He was the first born child to an overprotective mom who, well, had never let him run.  That over protectiveness ended up hurting him in the end.  The boy literally didn’t know how to fall.

I myself was a latch-key kid when it was still more uncommon than not to be a latch-key kid.  I was allowed to play until street lights came on, I came home when my dad whistled from the front porch, and was allowed to go to my friends’ houses and parks without being attached to a cell phone.

Sadly, as the recent wave of Facebook nostalgia reminds us, those days are long gone.  My kids can’t go to someone else’s home unless I’ve met the parents and seen the home.  They can go to the park, but only if their cells are charged and loaded.  Stay out until dark?  Puh-leese.  No way.   Now we have the added unseen danger of the internet.

When thinking about all that, I had to stop and ask myself, do my kids know how to fall?  Literally: sure they do.  Figuratively…

Justin is not a normal 12-year-old.  He acts like he’s 80; complains that his bones ache when it rains, prefers jazz to hip-hop, eats dinner at 4 and worries about things like money and politics.  I more often than not have to push him to act like he’s 12.

So when he asked if he could stay after school to try out for school mascot, it took everything in me not to jump up and shout.  All that elation and excitement came to an end a few short hours later when he said he didn’t try out at all.

Me: Why not?

Justin: I had to fill out a paper.

Me: Oooookay.

Justin: Mom, I had to give my email address.  You said never give out my email address.  The teacher said I could put a fake one in there, but then that’s lying.  So I just didn’t try out.

I was stunned.  Shocked.  My kid doesn’t know how to fall.  Each of my kids have an email address, and the oldest has a Facebook page.  With each new electronic “get”, I’ve lectured, talked, warned, and scared internet safety into my kids.

Apparently to the point where they are now afraid to do things at school.

Suddenly I found myself in the awkward position of, not backpedaling necessarily, but revising some of the lectures I’ve given over the years.  This led to what ultimately ended up being a two hour conversation on just about every lesson, lecture, and talk I’ve given as a parent.  (But, wow, that kid has one heck of a memory!!!)

I have a hard time finding the gray in life, but having kids has shown me that it can’t be all black or white.  Hopefully from here out, the way I see life through my kids eyes will help me teach them about it without quite so much… fear.

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Wendy Syler Woodward has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 12 and 16. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and this year returned to college for her B.A. Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler.