Spying on the Kids: The Not Creepy Edition

I used to think parents who spy on their kids are crazy. Maybe even a little creepy. OK, a lot creepy.

And I still do. But forgive me for admitting what I’m about to admit: I think I get it now.

Do not be afraid! There are no nanny cams in the Sager house! Or in her backpack for that matter. No, really! We are a bug-free zone.
But I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes wonder what it would be like to sneak into the cafeteria disguised as a lunch lady and just listen.

What does she talk about at lunch? Who does she sit with? Is she eating the food I throw together at night (sorry, lovingly packing went out around day 26 of kindergarten … this is more chore than charmed moment of motherhood) or trading the string cheese for someone’s homemade brownies?

Is she lonely? Is she bossy? Is she the life of the party? Is she the shy one in the corner?

I don’t want to act like the wizard behind the curtain, controlling what she does. That’s the sort of spying that leaves me uncomfortable, the parents who nose around their kids’ computers so they can tell them everything they are doing wrong in life, the parents who would read a little girl’s diary. I am her mother, but she is still her own person, and I respect that.

And yet, I want reassurance.

I remember good times and bad in the cafeteria, on the bus, and on the playground. I remember bullies and best friends. And I worry.

I am neurotic, yes.

I am also a mother.

I want my daughter to find that perfect balance between standing up for oneself and not being too bossy; between compassion and not letting people walk all over her. I want her to feel good about who she is, proud enough to walk up to other kids, strike up a conversation and become friends.

All of this I have to make happen as her parent, as her mother. I have to help her to find herself.

But then I set her free. I put her on a school bus in the morning, and I have to hope that it’s working. I have to hope that the kids are kind, that the relationships meshing, that the experience is a good one.

I have to hope, but I know I can’t change a darn thing.

Maybe it’s better not to spy, better not to know. I’d only feel more helpless …

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