We were to go to my step daughter for the Friday evening meal. It is a short 13 minute walk from us, and on Friday evenings the streets are basically closed to traffic. So what was there to fear?
Ricki’s older sister had left ahead of us, going to her sister’s house before Shabbat set in, so that she could use the elevator to haul her baby carriage up to her sister’s apartment. Arriving an hour later would mean hauling the carriage up five flights of stairs.
Ricki, on exiting her pre-Shabbas bath session was stricken to realize that her sister had left without her. Or, to be more precise, she was pained by the knowledge that she was not about to enjoy a stroll with her nephew’s baby carriage………
As a result, she wanted to leave RIGHT NOW. But the time to Shabbas was short, and I needed her help. And Ricki, bless her, acquiesced. She set about helping me straighten up in the living room, sweeping,etc.
Fianally shabbat arrived.
“OK., I’m leaving.”
Ricki wanted to walk over to her step-sister’s house. She assured me that she knew the way. And chances are that she did. Ricki has been there several times, and she has an excellent memory for “places”. The traffic was stopped, and there were plenty of people on the street to help her if someone would start up with her.
So what was my problem?
Well, the building we were going to looks nearly identical to the one next to it. What if Ricki mixed them up? What if she couldn’t find the apartment? What if some evil person offered to help her and took her elsewhere?? What if……..well, a mother’s fears are endless.
But Ricki is growing up. She won’t be walking with my escort forever. And realistically, if she got mixed up with the buildings, she would ask a woman for help, or come home. The choice was between 100% safety and independence. It is SSSOOO hard to choose, to give in to Ricki’s wish for independence, and not to coddle her. I feel the responsibility of keeping her safe, yet at the same time, realize that her future safety depends on her learning to fend for herself.
I let her go. I thinkI got a needed push due to the influence of a recently-read post by Dave Hinsburger (who is an expert on disabilities and safety for the intellectually impaired). And my heart was in my throat until I too arrived an hour later. Of course I asked Ricki nonchalantly on my arrival, if she had any trouble finding the right building.
“No. Of course not. I told you I knew where sis lives….”