Aaaaaaaagh! I just sent my oldest son to the library! By himself!
Having stumbled across the Free Range Kids website several months ago, and having read the book a few months ago, I have been quietly contemplating ways in which I could give our almost-10-year-old Brother Bear a bit more freedom and independence, without going nuts with worry. In the process of de-cluttering his room, the opportunity presented itself. This was it. I had to either go for it, or give up forever the dream of becoming a Free Range Parent.
So, Brother Bear is sitting there, perched on his chair, sorting the 5 Billionth LEGO (with another 5 Billion waiting patiently in the sorter), when he says to me, “You know, I should be listening to Mr. Popper’s Penguins on my iPod while I’m sorting LEGOs.” Mr. Popper’s Penguins is the book he is supposed to be reading for his Kids’ Book Club, to be discussed next week. He’s read one chapter. He prefers to listen to books on CD or Audible.
Me: “Yeah, that would be a good use of your time.”
Him: “You should run up to the library and get it on audiobook for me.”
Me: “Uh, nooooo. YOU should run up to the library and get it yourself.”
Me: “Yeah. You’ve got your own library card. You know where the library is. Here’s my phone. Call me if you need anything.”
Off he goes.
Now, at his age, I never would have had the courage and fortitude to embark on an adventure such as this, because I was a wimpy, lilly-livered, hidden-in-the-shell child if ever you met one. But, Brother Bear is cut from an entirely different cloth. His father’s cloth (thank goodness). So, off he goes.
Now, I’m running through my compulsive little mind every possible glitch that could possibly occur in the ten minutes or so it takes to get from our house to the library (less than two blocks away), and how he would probably handle it. I also mentally ran through the procedure of finding the exact audiobook he is looking for once at the library (I had only worked up the courage to ask a real-live librarian for assistance in finding something the previous week, after visiting THIS SAME library for about two years). I was pretty sure there might be some hiccups along the way, which is why I gave Brother Bear my cell phone. Sure enough, we got a call on Papa Bear’s work line.
“They changed the procedure for checking things out on April 1st. I need my PIN number to check out.”
Okay, he’d been gone 10 minutes, and he’d already managed to get down there, get the librarian to find exactly what he was looking for, and was in the process of checking out. Mind you, he was not the least bit embarrassed or distressed at not being able to check out himself (unlike me, who would have been mortified and expecting the Library Police to swoop in and whisk me off to Library Jail for being such a dufus I couldn't check myself out). He was just dealing with the situation.
Me: “Your card is on my account. Will my PIN work on your card?”
I hear Brother Bear asking the librarian. The answer is “probably.”
Me: “Okay, here’s my PIN. Try it, and if it doesn’t work, call me back.”
No call back. Ten minutes later, he shows up at home with audiobook in hand.
Victory. And, a little more freedom for Brother Bear. Sigh. And Applause.