Handing Over the Keys…sort of

The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without his teacher.

Elbert Hubbard


When I turned sixteen, I was beyond ecstatic to get my driver’s license and gain a little more freedom. I was the last one in my entire class to turn sixteen, so I was ready to stop mooching rides and finally be the one in the driver’s seat. I thought I was home free once I turned sixteen….but no so fast!

This is where my mom, dad, and a candy apple red Bronco come into the story. The Bronco was going to be my car to drive, but it was a stick shift. I was alright with driving a stick, but not great, and certainly not great enough to get the” okay” nor the keys from my mom and dad to get out and drive with my friends in the car.

In order to drive on my own, my parents had found the biggest hill in town and I was to stop on the hill and then be able to go again without rolling all the way backwards down the hill. I had to smoothly get up and over the hill without losing any ground. Forget the driver’s ed test, forget the state’s written test, and forget the state’s driving test. No, I had to also pass my mom and dad’s dreaded hill test!

But I didn’t. I had not passed the dreaded hill test. No pass no drive. I was completely frustrated and even promised my parents I would avoid all hills while out driving with my friends. But, the rule did not contain a loophole…I had to pass it.

Since I had a driver’s license, I told my mom to give me the keys. I will teach myself to drive stick and pass the hill test once and for all.

So, she passed me the keys and said, “Don’t go where I can’t see you.”

“What? Mom, I’m not going on a bike…I’m taking the car.”

“I know. Don’t go where I can’t see you.”

Now, hold on to that ridiculous but hilarious conversation between and a mom and a sixteen year old….

This week we are talking about independent play and the positive role it plays in our children’s lives. (Not to mention, it gives us a little time to throw in a load of laundry, make a grocery list, check email, or gasp…read a book!)

Last week, we talked about being intentional with our children. I have to be real intentional with the daily balance of playing with my children and stepping back and them playing without me.  There are those days, but I try to have both types of play happen daily in our house. Both are little gifs our children need and deserve.

So, what happens when we exit scene and leave the spotlight shining on only our children? Lots of wonderfulness! Here is what we think happens:

  1. A child will be able to get lost and roam freely in his or her own world created by him and learn to just “be”. Just be quiet, just be slow and just be themselves in his peaceful little world.
  2. A child will learn how to invent games or create activities on his or her own. No gadgets, no phones, no computers to feed him ideas. It is raw imagination at its finest
  1. A child will learn to problem solve/sort through ideas/experiment/ask questions on his or her own. A child becomes a researcher when left to his own devices. Can we say critical thinking skills are blooming here?
  1. A child will gain self- control and self- discipline when asked to stay in his or her own world. It allows the child to learn the boundaries and stay within the boundaries. Oh, do our children need this gift in today’s big world.

I don’t know about you, but I like the payoff independent play gives my children. Anybody else?

So, when is independent play time happening in your house today? Let’s take the time for our children to unwrap little treasures of imagination and peaceful fun each day. We, as parents, will learn so much about what our kids can do each time we allow them this time.

So, did I ever pass the test?

After I took the keys and went round and round in front of my house, as my mom waved at me from the front yard, (Yes, I actually stayed where she could see me.) I was able to quietly teach myself how to shift smoothly without killing the car each time. Even at 16, I was needing my quiet time to sort through some things and my mom knew it!

So, yes…I finally passed the dreaded hill test and I was finally given the keys to the candy apple red Bronco! I suppose I should be thankful there wasn’t a parallel parking test! I never would have gotten the keys!






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