Last week, after school, a group of Hobbit friends met up at the local leisure centre. They had booked a football pitch for a kick-about. Each boy (and two girls - brave of them) had brought their money for the pitch and lunch. No parents were allowed and the one mother who did hover nearby caused her son to back out and go home.
I won't pretend that I did clock watch a little. This is the point where they take bigger responsibility for their own safety and I have to step away. This is the point where they start to make their own decisions and mistakes and importantly learn from them. It is frightening as it feels like we have been trained to imagine the bogeyman behind every corner.
I remember being warned not to go near certain people in the village I grew up in. The danger has always been there, the paranoia is just greater now.
Take a deep breath. At their age I would walk the couple of miles to the town with a friend or two. We would go off adventuring up by the river bank without a risk assessment being done.
I'm trying to quell my fear. They're good Hobbits, they ask permission to do things, they always let me know where they'll be. I've tried to instil the knowledge that honesty is rewarded with more freedom and it seems to have worked. Certainly they understand why.
Little squidgy arms and legs have been replaced by long limbs and wide shoulders. Faces have lost the apple cheeks and are lengthening and narrowing. My babies are growing and a (not so) little part of me wishes I could have one day back when they were little enough to fit, one on each hip. Such things do not exist and I have to enjoy this next part. Loosen the apron strings that some are holding so tight it'll strangle their little darlings.
This next part - probably meaning girls, teenage years, that difficult bridge between kid and adult. I try not to think - trouble. Youngest Hobbit insists that 10 is *nearly* teen. I tell him not to rush.
The adult part is long enough.
I really need to think of a new nickname for them as Hobbit seems not to fit - cute, hairy and big feet, yes but now not so small.