I am always the first one to say “let your kid do it.” It’s always been my thought that if you rob a child of that pride of mastering a new skill, you might be damaging their self-esteem. Or even worse you might be raising an entitled little brat who expects that the world will do everything for them for the rest of their lives. Yes, I went there. Now, letting your child be independent is no easy task. It takes patience (and sometimes a strong stomach) to let your child learn new things that could potentially hurt them, and when you have a kid like mine with a mind of her own, you don’t even have a choice.
Take the other day for example. I’m sitting at my kitchen table scarfing down a bowl of oatmeal in the five minutes of quiet while she watches TV. My inner monologue went something like this:
“Ah, quiet. I can have my coffee and my oatmeal and…. HOLY CRAP. Quiet? Not good.”
So I ran into her room and what do I see? My 19-month old had used the computer chair to climb onto the computer desk and kneel on it. She had papers everywhere and I caught her right before she grabbed anything important. I felt like I was going to vomit. I’ve mentioned on many occasions that I have pretty bad anxiety. My thoughts immediately went to “holy crap, she could have fallen out the window if she turned in the other direction…” “Well, now I have to take the gate down from her door so she doesn’t fall over it when she tries to climb (which is her new favorite word, by the way)” “WHERE THE F*#& AM I SUPPOSED TO PUT EVERYTHING!!! NOTHING IS SAFE!!!”
She is also teething, so she forgets how to communicate when she’s in pain. Some days she spends a good 3 hours just crying because she forgot how to tell me what she needs. I felt really bad the other day because she was in so much pain that she looked at me in the middle of the store and said “mommy, medicine, mouth.” Poor kid. She also wants to do every little thing by herself, which is great, but can be frustrating. I try to give her two options (shorts or dress, cups or animals for bath time) but when neither of those options suits her, she’ll throw herself on the ground in an EPIC temper tantrum. My favorite is when I tell her “either wear your bib or mommy will have to feed you.” She just LOVES that… Another great one is when I ask her which book she wants for bedtime and she wants to play with toys. HAHA yeah right, kid. My response is usually, “I know you’re sad. You can cry.” I know it sounds mean, but it’s important to teach little ones what emotions look like and that it’s ok for them to feel them.
But this is what being a mom is all about. It’s about letting them be little, but letting them try their hand at being big sometimes. It’s having panic attacks because they’re doing something dangerous, but knowing that it will eventually be a lesson learned for both of you. Scariest of all, it’s weighing the option between raising them to be cautious, afraid, and helpless or strong willed, independent, and fearless.