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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: Growth means independence

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At 8p.m. on a cool Thursday evening, a young boy who seems to have just learned the art of scootering zooms past an elderly couple in the plaza of Switchyard Park, a destination off of Bloomington’s B-line trail. His neon green swimsuit with half-peeled bananas, only a blur.  

Suddenly, a woman in a black swimsuit cover up who has been quietly packing their stuff calls him over. She pulls him close and puts a helmet over his head, along with an orange and white towel poncho, clothing him in protection. He goes off, then comes back, handing the towel poncho back, but keeping his helmet. 

The woman returns to packing up of empty juice boxes and damp towels. Another boy who looks a little older than the other comes zipping by.  

She tells the younger boy “Okay, follow your brother, he’s goin’ to the trash can.” The two boys speed away behind the bathrooms. 

Now, the woman is alone. A concert plays off in the distance, where on a hill couples cozy up against one another. The sunset is turning a soft pink and cicadas swell in a chorus of buzzing conversation. She is silent as her hands methodically continue their packing. Her eyes are attentive to her actions, her dark brown hair is down, her face is sun-soaked from the day.  

Not long after the boys had disappeared, the older brother shoots out from behind the restroom and starts doing circles in the concrete plaza. The woman has since finished her packing: her hands now hold a red cooler, a big reusable plastic bag from Aldi that seems about to burst and an umbrella tucked under her arm.  

Without saying a word she begins walking towards the bike path which leads back to downtown Bloomington. At this unsaid permission, the older brother suddenly shoots off down the path, rolling straight by the older woman. Then, a moment later the younger boy appears, shooting past the woman in a mad rush to go as fast as he can towards his brother.  

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The woman continues her steady pace, one step at a time. Her face looks forward, watching the two boys fade down the path, along with the soft pink sky drifting away to dark blue.  

When I witnessed this scene unfold, I thought of the different ways parents have an unsaid protection over their kids. As the boys were going about in their chaotic scootering and whirring around, the woman continued her noiseless and mechanical way of packing up all of their things. There was no rebellion from the boys to stay longer, and there was no yelling from the woman for the boys to calm down. Instead, she simply put a helmet on the smaller one. She didn’t control them, but made sure they were at least free from danger.  

There was safety that this trio felt in the presence of one another, the trust in each another's actions. Then, as the boys sped past the woman, she watched them go.  

It reminded me of this quote from the “Barbie” movie stating that “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they have come.”  

The quote feels applicable to all of us, whether it’s discussing parent figures, older siblings or our closest friends. We are all given this task of making sure our loved ones feel safe (like with a theoretical helmet or a towel poncho), so that they may be able to leave and shoot down the bike path in confidence of themselves.  

In our college years, we as students seek out those spaces of independence, zooming down the bike path toward creating our lives for ourselves. And there, the ones who have shown support and love also prepare to watch us from afar. It’s all very beautiful, and seemingly very difficult.  

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However, it all feels very right. How else are we to grow up without the chances to experience life on our own?  

Hopefully, we learn how to find our rhythm, just as the woman in charge of the two boys had her actions set in packing up, and her steady walk down the path. For now, it seems we’re still the ones who discovered the art of having our own hands at the handle of our scooters, speeding to whatever our next destination is.   

Carolyn Marshall is a junior majoring in English and media studies with a concentration in TV, film and digital production.  

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