I underestimate my daughter. She can do anything. I know that. But some times I know it in theory and not in practice.
Most recent example: Every time I go anywhere during the day, I now have to get two kids into and out of the car. (BTW I had a baby in December-more on that here) I think to myself, “Man, this would be easier if Maggie was just a little bigger and she could get into her carseat by herself.” About two weeks ago, I was struggling with Brooks crying in his seat and Maggie whining about wanting to go home and eat lunch. I opened her door, put her hand on her carseat and told her to climb in. I was done dealing with the whining and I knew that would at least keep her close to the car. I put Brooks in on the other side, then came around the car and Maggie was in the car, trying to get into her seat. She took forever, but she got it!
Why do I doubt her? I think to myself, Well when she’s older or bigger or understands better, then she’ll be able to do such and such. Truth is, a lot of those things she can do now, if I just let her. As a parent it’s really so much faster, cleaner, and usually easier to do things yourself for your children. However, if you do everything for them, they will grow up with a crazy sense of entitlement and be able to accomplish little to nothing on their own. I believe in letting your kids help you cook, clean, rake leaves, take out the trash, carry in groceries from the car. As the oldest child of 6 I always made my younger siblings do things for me; or at least help me. I mean really, part of the reason you have kids is so you don’t have to do chores for a while. Am I right? :)
My problem is that I don’t always make Maggie do things. It’s horrible, but I do have this mind set that she’s different. She’s special. It’ll be too hard for her. She’ll make such a mess, I’d much rather just do it myself. I don’t want her to hate doing such and such because I tried to make her do it too young, or before she really understands. And deep down, there’s the fear that maybe she can’t do it. I have these feelings yet I get frustrated with people who do things for her.
Many people treat her like a big (ish) well spoken baby. They want to carry her everywhere and pick her up when she falls. Give her everything she wants and do whatever they can to stop her from crying. I’m glad I’ve at least moved past that part. I know she’s a toddler, perfectly capable of walking, and of communicating what she wants and needs. Just because what she wants is usually not what’s happening doesn’t mean you should give it to her. She, like everyone else, has to learn that not everything can be the way she wants it to be. She’s even pretty good at calming herself when a situation she doesn’t like is explained to her.
I get to help people realize that she needs to walk, not be carried, so she can learn the layout of a place and how to get around in it. That when she screams because some other kid is playing with a toy she wants, don’t take it from that kid and give it to her. Just tell her to wait her turn. She has to share like everyone else. And that when she falls down, please don’t pick her up unless she’s screaming and bleeding. Let her pick herself up. I know Maggie’s going to fall a lot, and she needs to know how to pick herself up.
Now I get to tell people to let her walk without holding her hand, let her climb into the car by herself, make her be a part of the preschool group and go inside from recess when it’s time, even though she doesn’t want to. She’ll get over it.
I let Maggie figure out how to get into her carseat by herself and now she gets into and out of her high chair, climbs up and down the slide in her room and goes potty by herself. There may be a bit of a mess involved, some spilled juice or toilet paper on the floor, but Maggie insists on doing these things by herself now that she knows how. I have to let her. I have to consciously think, Yea, Maggie can do this. Yes she can help me make cookies, and it’ll be a mess, and that’s ok because then she can help me clean it up. I need to let her try instead of assuming she won’t be able.
I am so proud of Maggie. I’m glad she’s so daring and adventurous. It’s inspiring. I love her!