At some point Friday afternoon, Chloe was running around barefoot in North Philly.
No less than thirty strangers, mostly Temple students or college employees or rainbow-brite clad BassNectar concert attendees alerted me to this development.
Because obviously, I did not notice that my three-year-old was running around shoeless. Obviously, the size 8 Dora the Explorer sneakers in my hands were a fashion accessory (because clearly we were all headed to rock out to BassNectar or whatever you do that is BassNectar-ish).
But, really? Enough with Captain Obvious. Yes, I actually permitted Chloe to run barefoot through the city streets risking a cut foot or a shard of crack-pipe wedged in her foot. I absolutely allowed it. I enabled this homeless, bag-lady behavior because the alternative was screaming and writhing and hitting. I just wanted to get to the parking garage and strap the shoeless little monster (darling) into her car seat.
And I know what all those villagers are thinking: You, Mrs. Adkins, cannot control your own children.
And you know what, you are right. I have no control. And neither do you--your children are also running wild in one way or another.
Our children have minds of their own and no matter how hard we attempt to force them to do exactly what we want, they will never ever do it, unless it is their idea. We might fool ourselves into thinking that we've got the little loves under control with threats and bribes, but really, they are going to do what they want at the end of the day.
Naughty-spot be damned, shards of crack pipes, rocks, sticks and drafty little behinds at the mall: our children don't belong to us. All we can do is provide wisdom, expectations, lessons in common sense and of course, consequences for poor behavior or inappropriate choices. All we can do is give our children all the tools they need to someday be healthy adults. We can pray for them and with them. We can naughty-spot them until the carpeting on the stairs is worn bare. We can ground them and take away their car keys a million times.
But, they will still run barefoot in North Philly.