Applauding Independence

Today, TL spoke those dreaded words for the first time:  “No, me do it.”

And so it begins.  Independence.  With it comes fierce opinions and single-minded determination.

In this case, it had to do with buckling herself into her car seat.  She loves playing with the buckles, but she’s not so great at actually getting them to click together.  Normally I’m happy when she wants to give things a try.  But in this case, we were running just a tad late and the Rocketship was ready for take off.   (To be honest, I had enough time, but I was in a hurry nevertheless.)  It took tremendous willpower for me to resist yanking those buckles out of her hands and just be done with it.

Yet, if I did, her world would crumble to pieces.  Figuratively to me, but literally to her.

“No, me do it.”

Those are powerful words coming from a little girl who has just a year and a half under her belt.  Just think about what that short little phrase conveys.  This coming from someone who, just 7 months ago, took her first step.

As inconvenient as her independence may be to my pace of life, I need to remember to applaud her efforts.  Even if they are downright stubborn and unreasonable at times.  She means no harm as she explores and pushes the limits of her abilities.  My impatience does not teach her anything.

As she takes steps to learn and grow — sometimes bold, sometimes tentative — she needs to know that Smartypants and I are her number one fans.  That we believe in her and the sky’s the limits for her.  That God has made her incredibly unique and precious.  It won’t be long before she will receive other messages of “can not” and “should not”, or even worse, “why bother”.  I see it in the teens at my clinic.  I see it in myself.  Certainly, I can learn a little something from my daughter’s passionate can-do attitude.

And so it begins.  Independence.  Unfortunately, with independence comes new fears of failure and disappointment.  My baby is growing up.  There’s nothing I can do to slow down time, and there’s nothing I can do to shield her from failure and disappointment.  But I can remember to watch for these moments when she is trying to figure things out for herself and, in her own little way, taking risks with something new or difficult.  I may not be able to slow down time, but I can at least try to slow myself down and be in the moment with her, cheering her on as her number one fan.

What have your kids been trying to do lately?

How do you deal with their growing independence?

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