17 August, 2016

The key

I did a simple thing this afternoon. I got a copy of my house key. But it is symbolic of much more. I will give it to my youngest son this evening. It is like a rite-of-passage. One that I never had because I left home before I had independent transport to and from the house (i.e. in rural Australia, a car).

My youngest son doesn't have a car, but he does have legs, a bike, and ready access to trains. He rarely travels to and from school or anything else with me these days. 

We've given all our boys a key to the house when they've hit middle school. Because from middle school they are involved in more extra curricular activities and we aren't necessarily here when they come home (though I usually am). 

For example, we might all be at school at a sports event and he might desire to come home early without us (a journey of 300m), now he can do that without asking for our keys. Or sometimes both David and I have to leave the house on a school morning before the boys do in the morning and up till now one of the older boys has had to wait until their youngest brother is ready to leave so that they can lock up after him (you can't lock the house without a key). Now they're not tied to him.

On Monday night I drove to a bus stop to pick up a former OMF Japan kid (now an adult and teaching at CAJ) as she returned from summer holidays in the US. She would normally have caught a train home from the bus stop but had too much luggage. We talked on the way back to her apartment about how independent kids who grow up in Japan are in terms of getting themselves around. When we were in Australia it was an adjustment to have to drive our kids to youth group, to school, and to friends' houses. They actually felt it more than us, they felt restricted, their freedom curtailed.

So the key is a symbol of growing up and increased responsibility. My son is only 11½, so I'm not leaving him alone too much, however this will allow him some much coveted independence (he is the youngest of three after all, and he's looked on in envy at his brother's freedom for some time now).

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