LET ME GO: Navigating your child's growing independence, and their boundaries, can be a challenge.
LET ME GO: Navigating your child's growing independence, and their boundaries, can be a challenge. Imgorthand

Children testing your limits and theirs

WELCOME to the first term of 2018.

This year, like every year with children, presents a fresh set of challenges. As my children reach double digits, we are navigating their growing independence.

They want to ride their bikes to their mate's place down the road, they want to stay home when we have errands to run, they want YouTube accounts and they want later bedtimes.

Some of it is a simple, flat-out 'no'.

But some of it is stuff that I was doing well before their age and I still struggle with allowing them the same privileges.

Recently one child rode outside of shouting distance (or in our case, a massive ship bell from HMS Marlyn which I'm sure people interstate can hear when I ring it) and needed to be located and summoned home by their sibling.

I was the very picture of a mother: standing akimbo with a wooden spoon in one hand (I was making bolognese at the time, but figured it was a very convincing prop nonetheless), I shouted down the child the moment they came into the kitchen.

"Do you know what I think when you don't come home?" This question fired at me once upon a time and now my own child standing in my spot, shaking their head and looking remorseful.

"I think you are dead in a gutter!"

Said child burst into tears. Mission accomplished? I'm still undecided on that one.

But I'm guessing the next time I ring that bell, they could qualify for Tour de France as they furiously pedal home.

So far, no one has stayed home alone. In fact, I am only just starting to loosen the reins on how far they may wander when we're out and about and I'm boring them with my "talking to other grown-ups" social life.

My interest in boundaries was piqued when I met a group of girls that had been left to their own devices at a shopping centre for most of the day. No adult in sight. They seemed responsible and stuck together, but what if it wasn't me they struck up a conversation with?

Sadly for my offspring, I have endured enough media to have my defences up when it comes to stranger danger.

However, I have discovered the bonus of extended boundaries is the exercise they get each time they must run back to you.

Which inadvertently settles the argument about staying up later.

In Queensland, leaving a child home alone before the age of 12 can be a misdemeanour, while you need to be over 13 to have a Facebook account.

It's worth noting that something online requires more maturity than staying safe in a house with electrical appliances and knives.

Fortunately, in our house, the requests for online accounts is mostly vanquished by one simple rule: Mummy gets to star in your YouTube clips.


Peta Jo is an author, mother of three and wonders where the last decade of her life went to. You can find her (but not her kids) on Facebook.