Wednesday, May 20, 2009
This morning I heard an interview on the radio with Sidney Poitier, who was promoting his autobiography. Poitier talked about the moment when his father sent him off to Florida to live with his brother, putting $3 into his hand and telling him to take care of himself. Looking at his father, Poitier could tell that his father was wondering whether he had given his son enough to be prepared to make his own way in the world. Poitier said that he ultimately decided that his father had given him more than enough, and he wasn't talking about the three dollars.
I had just dropped off my two fourteen year old kids at school and told them that they should take the subway and bus home from school by themselves. I have shown them how to do it, but they have never gotten home on their own before, and they are not too crazy about the idea. I told them that because of the thoughtless way that we drive everywhere, the Maldive Islands are sinking into the sea, and their inhabitants are being forced to look for a new country to live in. And I have been trying to persuade them of how exciting it should be for them to be able to navigate the city on their own. I'm not sure my arguments were having any impact.
We can never be sure that our kids are prepared to make their own way in the world, but hard as it sometimes is, and even nowadays when they don't always seem to value independence, we have to let them go anyway.