We’re entering a new phase in parenting where one child is increasingly asking for less of us and one is always asking for more. They flip flop on a daily basis, always keeping us on our toes.
Our daughter, 6 1/2 (the oh so important half NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN) is acting like I did when I was 15-17. That wasn’t that long ago for me – so I freak out almost daily that we need to get this attitude situation under control STAT.
And we’ll get to all of what that really entails – but first, let’s sugar the cookie. There are some really cool things about where we are with her. She’s asking for larger boundaries (in her eyes, freedoms) and we’re stretching our comfort and trust in her every day to accommodate this growth without letting her know we’re still pulling all the strings.
The trick of a six year old? Or, well, my six year old? Let her live 50% of the time in a reality where it looks as though she’s in control.
What she wears (only what I’ll buy), how and what she accessorizes with (only what’s available), what she watches (inside the parental controls on TV), the vast array of games she may play online once in a great while (thank you PBS for having 500 games).
She’ll get wise to our antics soon enough, friends at school will be talking about what they saw on TV or played online the night before and we’ll be barraged with “BUT THEY GET TO!” all over again. The introduction into her social world is really the introduction into What We’re Not Currently Allowing.
Living in a neighborhood setting has proved to be an amazing thing for our kids. They’re making friends and riding bikes and this afternoon our daughter went to play at the neighbors house for the first time. Ever.
It was a little unnerving to be completely honest. I parent with my entire soul – and when one of my children are away from me but not removed from me I can’t really breathe.
This could also be compared to Helicopter Parenting – something I try sooooooo hard not to do but inevitably always end up running out of gas hovering over my kids.
We were talking about the awesome that she is, weren’t we?
And she is Awesome. She is the Go to the Girl. All about the You. She’s dynamic and witty, her timing is always off when telling jokes but the punch line always right.
She’s aware of her self – and that she’s smart, but also cute. She can read the emotional barometer of a room and always knows who to go to first. She loves to cook, not so much bake. (Baking has exacts, cooking never does … in this house) She ALWAYS wants to help.
However … there’s a tough side to this age or is it stage that I’m struggling with. She’s maturing emotionally way faster than I was expecting. Ever. Like it didn’t cross my mind when she was 3 months old that one day she might not like me very much. Or that she would have her own agenda before she could write her name. She’s on a mission, mostly silent, almost every day – and it’s my best guess to make sure that mission goes off without a hitch. (Although I am NEVER allowed to know what it is she’s thinking)
The hitch is always her brother or the fact that our life cannot revolve around her at all times. She struggles with feeling adequate and always notices the age difference of her and her younger brother and what it entails: he’s 3 1/2 years younger than she is = he needs more instruction and direction and often more time than she does. He cannot tie his shoes, cannot bathe himself, cannot ride his bike alone or without training wheels. He’s constantly in her rearview mirror and knows it – and she’s constantly asking us to chase her up her dream, regardless of what we must leave behind to do so.
Somewhere in there is the Balance of Parenting. More than one kid, such vast age differences, different sexes.
Yesterday (like most days) we were in the middle of yet another 6-year-old melt down about “My life is so hard!” “I can’t do it!” “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME” when instead of getting frustrated with this same tactic of reasoning with her I went about it like this:
I hear you, and understand that you’re feeling overwhelmed and out of control right now. I feel that way too, sometimes. How about instead of thinking about all the ways we’re not happy right now – lets try to think of 3 things that you LOVE about having a brother/being in our family/today? (Pick one)
She thought about it. Smirked (which is our sign that she’s trying not let on to us she agrees/heard us/is willing/embarrassed or otherwise unsure). Then it got quiet.
I let it go, reminding myself that silence is when you allow something to sink in and waited.
Pretty soon instead of this pouty, pity-party-throwing daughter who wanted a reason to yell at her brother or argue with me was smiling and using kind words and a respectful tone to engage in a conversation about how much fun she has in our family. That our family is SO fun. We go swimming! And play outside every day and go on walks and to the park and and and and …
Some days I’m not able to reach her at all – but the days she comes through? The days she wades through the emotional tsunami I imagine she’s in at this age and reaches for my hand? Time stops and I realize it’s never too late and that she’s listening to the message we’re sending her: as a person we want her to be kind, giving, loving and gentle. To sew her seed with passion and plant herself where she lands, blooming even when odds are against her.
We want her to be fierce: something she proves she’s not only capable of but that encapsules her every move.
This entangled vine all connects to the same Beauty: Her.
I love her so much – it really does hurt.