Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Celebrating firsts

"I do it mah-sef."

"I wanna do it!"

"Ma, let me just do it, ok?"

(nonverbal child screeches and yanks back toy so that she can pull the handle that makes the noise)

"These are our rules, Grammy.   Please help us enforce those rules so that Johnny will sleep/eat/behave like we've been trying to teach him."

Kids should do things for themselves.  Not dicing tomatoes - young kids and knives do not blend well.  And while some oversight is probably a good idea, as I said in Hovering, allowing kids to experience the bumps of "haven't quite got it right yet" serves as a perfect appetizer to "Mom, I did it!"  How else can they learn how to do something,or, just as important, how not to do something?

And just as it's important to let them crow about their successes, let them hear you celebrate.  It can be hard, though, as you swim through a sea of:

  • "Knock-knock." "Who's there?" "Chair." "Chair who?" "Chair tomato broccoli aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" (serious giggles). "Knock-knock..."
  • "Mom. Mom.  Mom.  Mom.  Mom.  Mom.  Mom. Mom.  Mom.  Mom.  Mom.  Mom."  "What???" "I forgot."
  • "Mommy, today I went to...uh...the...uh..(inaudible)...and...uh...Michael...(inaudible)...and then he...uh...went like...(inaudible)...and I was like...(inaudible) that ok?"
  • "I am not going to the potty, and I don't care!" (1 minute 15 seconds later, puddle on floor)
  • "I HATE this stupid thing!" (throws thing across room, hits sister square in eye.  Commence escalated chaos).
  • "I can't (fill in the blank), I'm too scared!"
  • No, Mommy..wait...I have to tell you something. (repeat eleventy-seven times)
Add these classic hits (all for 2 installments of $9.99) to your dishes, the lawn, their homework, your to do list (which is looking more and more like Martin Luther's Theses), the oil slick, unemployment, and your recent sleepless night because of any number of issues, and you'll miss:

  • the first whatever on the potty...and the attendant 2.73 rolls of toilet paper used to do so.
  • writing her name for the first time...or merely trying to write her name for the first time.
  • getting to the end of the maze
  • telling that overbearing friend, "No, I want to do it my way for once."
  • first time brushing teeth by himself, complete with Blob-sized splat of toothpaste clogging the sink.
  • walking down the dark hallway where the goblins live by herself.
  • the "I love you" that was supposed to come out, but you'd already had it with the 78 other things you'd been dealing with, so you said "Not now, honey, ok?"
We miss too much; we're just not there enough to see it all.   To capture some of it, at least once a day, try the following.

  1. Stop what you're doing
  2. Kneel down with your child (being much taller and staying way up there can be intimidating)
  3. Listen.  Really listen.
  4. Give them a chance to say it themselves. 
  5. Clarify what they're trying to say without interrupting.
  6. "VERY nice name." "Horray for peepee on the potty!" "You rode your bike that far?  WOW!" (even if it's only 2 feet)  "Wow, your breath is NICE and minty."
  7. Big hug.

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