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Stay where I can see you

May 5, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Last Tuesday was a busy day. When I finished with work, I drove the babysitter home, then went straight to the elementary school with my 10-and 7-year-olds in tow.

Once there, I helped serve hot dogs for two hours while my children looked at science fair projects and played on the playground.

Immediately after working the science fair concession stand, we walked across the playground to the ballfields for my 10-year-old son’s baseball practice.

After ordering my youngest to stay where I could see her, she just nodded her head and ran off with a couple of other girls.

While standing there watching practice with the other parents, I heard them instruct their younger children the same way I had my daughter.

I’m not sure how many times I heard parents plead, “Stay where I can see you.”

This struck a chord with me, and I secretly wished my children could always stay where I could see them.

I thought about how next year, my 7-year-old will be moving out of second grade and to the upstairs of the elementary school, my 10-year-old will be making the move to the middle school, and my oldest will be going away to college.

Tears were ready to spill down my face at the thought.

My children get annoyed with the “Don’t ever leave me” tears I seem unable to control lately.

This mom just can’t help it.

Doesn’t it seem like they grow up overnight?

Oblivious to the baseball practice, I continued thinking.

I recalled moments from the Delano High School prom hosted this month.

I remembered all of the young men my son has been friends with over the years.

They all looked so grown-up in their tuxes, and more than once, I had to stop myself from crying.

I was snapped out of my thoughts when, to the left, I noticed my daughter run into a wooded area with her friends.

To the right, I saw my son running after a baseball that had rolled down a steep hill.

I knew my oldest son was away at his baseball game in Waconia.

I felt like each of them were running in a different direction – away from me.

I wanted to freeze time and scream from the rooftops, “Wait! Stop! I’m not ready! Stay where I can see you!”

Nervously, I looked around at the other parents, and for a split second I wondered if I really had screamed out loud.

Another mother was again telling her child to remain close by, and a few minutes later, she witnessed him go on the other side of a fence.

When she warned him that he had gone too far, he shot back, “But you can still see me!”

To him, it must have seemed like mom had just changed the rules, because he was still visible.

I realized that I, too, was attempting to change the rules.

All these years I have been trying to prepare my son for adulthood, and now, I don’t want to let him go.

So, now I will continue to be proud of my children every day and, though I will always be watching, I know they can’t always stay where I can see them.