Summer break is slowly rolling to a close. We’re not at the end yet (11 days to go if I were to count!), but we’re close enough that new backpacks, shoes and some clothes are ready and waiting for the first day back.
It’s been a long summer. My son has been with me most of the time – including being at work with me – while my daughter has made a circuit of local day camps. There was very little rest for me, but my daughter has had an amazing summer and my son is in a much calmer state of mind now than he was back in June. The combination of being given the space to step back from the world along with good medication levels and cognitive behavioral therapy has taken the edge off for him. There has been progress that we really could not even imagine back in June. So I know without doubt that it was worth it to keep him close all summer.
But school will start, and he is anxious. School will start, and we are nervous. School will start and I won’t be able to keep him close all day. It’s time to trust the accommodation plan we put in place with the school and trust my son to recognize when he needs to access those accommodations. I am hopeful that we have paved the way for him to find his place in the day-to-day life of the school, but I am struggling with the trusting that will happen.
In the midst of that internal struggle this week, I came across an article that articulates our parenting philosophy in a very thoughtful and thorough way. The article commends a style of parenting that the author refers to as Lifeguard Parenting. The author describes the parent I try to be to both of my kids at all times, saying “a lifeguard parent stands by, encouraging their child to take risks and only jumps in when the child is in over her head and calling for help.”
There is no doubt that my son was in over his head at the end of the last school year. He needed us to jump in and save him. We have spent this summer providing our son with all the tools he needs to be successful at school and in the world. We gave him an opportunity to rest, heal, and grow stronger. We surrounded him with a life-preserver of love and support. We did what needed doing, and that included keeping him close all summer. But now he’s having more good days than bad days. Now it’s time for me to be the encouraging voice from the side, and give him the opportunity to find his own voice. It’s time for me to step back and be watchful, but not to interfere unless my son calls for help. It’s time for me to trust both my son and the school. It’s time…