You can put a dozen honeybees into a quart jar or into a two-gallon container and they’ll fill up each. Whether they need the room or not, the bees will spread out to the limit of their containment and constantly seek to move beyond.
As bees in a jar, children, too, push against their limits, seeking to expand their bounds. It is as natural for children as it is for honeybees to try to escape from a quart jar. It is the work of growing up.
It is the work of parents to be cautious about lifting the lid from the limits they’ve set, even if it means suffering a few stings to hold fast. With the wisdom of hindsight, many of us remember how glad we were that our parents “held the line.”
It sounds so easy. Set up reasonable rules, then apply them. But those of us who are raising or have raised children know how complicated it all is. Is a rule for a fourth grader also reasonable for a seventh grader? How much input should teenagers have in negotiating our rules for them? To what extent is it practical if our rules differ from those of our fellow EMS families? How do we handle the pressure of being the “only ones” with stringent rules for our youngsters? Do we relax the rules only when our children demonstrate maturity or does chronological age have something to do with it? What if our children aren’t ready for the same freedoms their friends have?
If any of this matches your thinking, don’t be surprised. It is a rite of passage for parents to be confused as their children go through school. If anything, it should underscore how much you have in common with other parents in the community.
So, whether working with honeybees or children, wear velvet gloves over firm hands to hold and hug your charges…and to protect yourselves from stings.