Many years ago, pre-children, I remember discussing the merits of instructing children to cross only at the green vs. teaching them how to jaywalk intelligently. Their father and I agreed that the latter was the ideal and vowed to do exactly that when we eventually had a family. I thought about this conversation during my recent trip to NYC with the boys, and am pleased to report that we have accomplished this goal – the Lilly boys have grown to be adept at forging their own way with a wonderful balance of confidence and caution. Let me elaborate…
During our Chinese Thanksgiving dinner, I received a phone call from the parent of one of my 13 y/o’s friends. She was calling to invite Griffin to join them for that night’s Jets/Patriots game at the Meadowlands. (The Patriots are Griffin’s favorite team.) I explained that we were in NYC without a car, and that I needed a few minutes to look into the transportation options and consult with his dad for approval. A quick search revealed a direct bus from the Port Authority to the Meadowlands, and with no protest from the paternal side of things, it seemed doable. I checked in with Griffin to measure his comfort level with traveling solo on a bus to NJ and he assured me he was fine. We made the call to confirm that he could meet his friend and Griffin added yet another item to the lengthy list of things for which to be thankful.
So, I walked him to the very same bus station that was my point of arrival for numerous NYC adventures when I was a teenager 30+ years ago. We got him set up with his ticket, found our way to the necessary gate and I put him on a bus bound for the best football game he could imagine. As the bus pulled away, I quickly considered all the terrible things that could happen to him, things I won’t honor by noting them in writing here. After about 20 seconds of that train of tragic thoughts, I thought about how if something horrible happened, I would be vilified as the mother who placed her 13 y/o on a bus to travel from one unfamiliar place to another. I rejected that thought, too. I knew that I wouldn’t always be able to tell him where he could go and what he could do, all I could do was try to prepare him to live his life, fully. He would be making these sorts of decisions and arrangements independently in no time, and experiences such as this exact one would provide him with the confidence to determine the strength of his capabilities.
Well, he was fine. He found his friends, watched his Pats
stomp beat the home team and made it back to the Port Authority at approximately the same time I often was caught running to catch the last bus north to Greenwood Lake after a show at the Garden. He and I walked back to our hotel at a pace much more leisurely than that desperate-to-catch-a-bus-home speed I recalled from my teens. We may even have jaywalked.