A few nights ago, Nathaniel emerged from his room at 10pm. As he shuffled toward me, blinking in the lamplight, he said quite distinctly, “Mommy, I would like you to move the Harry Potter books to the high shelf.”
“Did you finally realize that they can be scary to read?”
“Do you remember that I told you you might find them a bit scary, and that there’s no reason not to wait until you’re a bit older to read them?”
“Yes. And now I want them moved up high.”
The next day, however, Nathaniel was back at them, diving into the third of the seven books in the series. We’ll see how things go. I want to encourage him to listen to advice from adults, but also to make his own decisions and grapple with the consequences. At least, with this particular form of daring, he’ll have Katherine and me to lean on. And when I’ve checked on him in recent nights, he has been sleeping soundly.
* * *
This morning, I had Nathaniel and Katherine ready and waiting for the bus on the front porch. As I sat down to eat breakfast, I heard a commotion at the front door. He had apparently forgotten something, and was tearing down the whole house in his efforts to find it. As I grabbed his bag, I shooed him out to the front porch, so that we could keep an eye on the bus. Our bus driver will not wait. As Nathaniel and Katherine started up the steps of the bus, I turned back to realize that he had, on leaving the house, closed the door behind him—and it was locked.
30 degrees Fahrenheit, and 30 minutes until I needed to be in my classroom, a ten-minute brisk walk away.
Katherine had a key, but she was already on the bus, which was headed down the street. Sydney was sound asleep, and I knew from previous experience that it’s hard to get someone in the bedroom to hear you if you try to rouse them. Not to mention that I would be much more likely to disturb our elderly neighbor, who always watches the comings and goings at our house (we’re apparently very entertaining). So I sprinted around to the backyard in my socks, dug out our spare key from the dirt pile in which I’d tucked it, went back to the front door (wet socks, muddy hands), and found myself thoroughly awake, since my toes had had plenty of contact with the frozen ground.