Today I took half my heart to the train station for Jünkerath.
Ellie is going on a class trip to a youth center near the Belgium border of Germany. This trip is a celebration of the last year of grundschule (elementary school) and an opportunity to build independence in preparation for secondary school.
She will spend three days and two nights learning with her friends, hiking, playing games, reading, writing, and growing together.
As we packed her bag, Ellie and I went over how to make her bed at camp, keep her clothes organized, and pack her bag to leave. She was very nervous about being responsible for all of her belongings, but I assured her this was a part of the adventure. She also practiced carrying her own suitcase up and down the stairs, just like she would have to do by herself at the train station.
It made me realize that I need to give her more responsibility at home to help build her independence outside of house.
She shed a few tears as she hugged me goodbye, but I reminded her that she was going to have a blast. I told her I would see her in three days and that I couldn’t wait to hear details of her adventure! I was able to give her an encouraging smile as I walked away, holding my tears until I got into my car, knowing that my little one is growing into a very brave young lady.
Back at home now, and all I can think about is Ellie's safety and whether I have completely lost my mind by letting my 9-year-old travel by train without me. I noticed all the other parents were excited (and a little nervous) about the trip, and I didn’t seem any more anxious than the other moms and dads taking pictures and giving hugs.
I wonder if my over-protective American style of parenting is starting to wear thin. While I never would have considered letting her go on a trip like this without me while we were in the States, I didn’t really question her participation or my staying behind here.
Have we Americans become helicopter parents (and educators) by not allowing children the opportunities for more independence?