This weekend was supposed to be awesome. I was finally feeling better from the contagion my son infected me with, I wasn’t stuck working, and I was going to hang out with my family doing Christmas-y type stuff, and, I was going to go see a movie, in the theater, with my daughter and wife.
Some of these things occurred (unfortunately the movie was not one of them), but they all involved a great deal of stress, as my son dealt with headaches and the like all weekend from teething (I believe), and my daughter was in the midst of the worst behavior I’ve ever seen.
I want to focus on her right now. . .
You see, my daughter has always been a very well-behaved child. Sure, she’d get into trouble, every kid does, and I would be very concerned if she never did. But this weekend involved an entire behavior change. I’d tell her not to do something and a few minutes later she’d sneak off, and when I’d find her. . . she was doing the thing I told her not to do.
One such instance was that she went off to put lotion on her hands. She told me about it, I said, cool, but next time make sure mommy or I are around to help, so you don’t get too much on. She didn’t really respond. Then she disappeared. When she disappears quietly, I’ve learned that means I should see what she’s up to. She was in the bathroom, putting what she believed was lotion on her hands. It was bacitracin. . .
That’s kind of how it went all weekend. These weren’t real big issues, I mean, she was never really doing anything all that bad. Just disobeying.
But that’s the thing. She’s never really been one to disobey. . . much. . . so it was really bothering me that she had such a drastic change in behavior, seemingly overnight.
Then I realized something. Everything she had been doing, although being directly against what I had been telling her, really came down to one similarity. She was trying to do things by herself, things that she considered we kept telling her she was too little to do, but she wanted to prove to us she could.
And then I got sad. . . because A. my little girl is growing up and trying to assert her independence, but B. because I had honestly been holding her back, something I had been making a concerted effort not to do for so long. I mean, like the lotion deal for instance. The whole reason we typically did not allow her to do it by herself is that she is traditionally bad at portioning, meaning her entire hand gets covered with the stuff. It’s disgusting. But, instead of taking the time to teach her about lotion portioning, we’ve just gotten to the point where we tell her to make sure we do it.
Same thing with many of the other items she fought us on (generally portioning issues).
I have been holding her back just because I haven’t felt like I’ve had the time to teach her some relatively simple concepts. And that’s crap. This is all stuff she can easily do by herself. And she knows it. And she’s been trying to prove it to me. And I’ve been just getting mad because she’s going against my will.
So, last night, before bed, she and I had a heart to heart about this whole idea. She got a little overly-excited. Again and again she asked, “So, what else can I do by myself?”
We focused on the fact that we would have to work together to ensure she learned how to do these things by herself, but she was totally for it, she wants to learn, she wants to do. . . she wants to grow up.
The conversation lasted quite a bit longer than it should have, and only served to get her jumping up and down in anticipation of all the things that would be opened up to her. . . not all that suitable pre-bedtime. So, I left it with, now you can go to sleep by herself. She was not too immediately keen on the idea, but she did it.
And first thing this morning, as she ambled into our room? I’m gonna go on the potty by myself! I’m going to wipe by myself! What else can I do by myself?
It was quite adorable. . . but also means she’s growing up. Granted, I won’t miss having to wipe her ass every day.