When I was packing Will's lunchbox the other day, a conversation I'd had with a former coworker popped into my head.
She's one of those fierce moms who people openly admire. Her children were pretty much self-sufficient by the time they were three. OK, I may be exaggerating a bit on that. But I remember asking her about it and this is what she told me: "Julia, what if I was in a car accident and ended up in a ditch somewhere.... who would fix them breakfast? They need to be able to do it themselves."
And yes, she was exaggerating. Maybe. But, you get the point.
I have found myself one too many times doing things Will should be doing. I grab his shoes from the basket, untie them and hand them to him. I pour his orange juice in the morning. I put his recorder and sheet music in his backpack. Why? Because it's easier and faster.
Don't misunderstand, there are plenty of things Will does and is expected to do for himself. He's been making up his bed every morning since he was four. He knows better than to leave clothes or towels on the floor. He keeps his bathroom and bedroom clean and he takes out the trash.
That morning while I was making his lunch I kept thinking of all the things I do and really shouldn't be doing. Sure, it might help me and I know it makes things run more smoothly. But, it's not helping him to be independent and self-sufficient and, at the end of the day, isn't that a big part of our job as parents?
As I was peeling the orange to put in his lunchbox, I thought to myself "What if he goes off to college and doesn't know how to peel an orange?!" That's when I picked up an untouched orange and put it in the bag.
Let him peel his own orange.
Julia is the mom of a grader schooler and a reporter for WRAL-TV. She appears here monthly.