Self-determination. When it’s starting to break free from inside of our children, we have to celebrate it. Nurture it.
I find that right after my very small child has open-handed/high-five style slapped me splat in the middle of my face, it is not the time to celebrate it.
But really, after I have recovered I have to chuckle at his near-immediate, innocently sadistic inquiry of, “Are you ok?”
“No, that hurt. Do not hit me.”
The umbilical cord. I know I’m not the only one who understands the ethereal nature of that connection, lasting for years after the physical separation of two beings.
I try to hold the line without tugging. I might set it down from time to time, to nurture that independence as much as I can.
I taught our kiddos to ski. We started when our oldest was about 2 1/2 and when our youngest was about 3. I used one of those safety harnesses with a long tether I can hold onto as needed.
For the last part of any run, I would tuck them up…sort of nestle them between my ski boots. And I would crouch down close to them, so they could experience the feeling of skiing fast on the smooth, safer snow…tucked up like a baby penguin with mom. They loved it.
I can still hear his cry of “Yeehaw!”
Where did he learn to say Yeehaw?
As they grew, the tether became another iteration of that ethereal cord. I would ski behind them, always just close enough that a little wind could rustle the line. It was, then, as if they were not connected at all.
When we hit terrain they were not ready for, I’d pull them in and we’d safely navigate that, cord tight, until they could be “free” again.
Close, but not controlling. Plenty of opportunity to…fall. Pick oneself back up. Etc.
In life, this balance is very hard. It’s scary. There are times I miss it…close at the wrong time…too far when they are needing me closer. It’s bound to happen.
Our oldest and I, sitting in the living room together on the cozy, hand-woven cotton rug. She’s small.
Her little tiny dolly’s rubber pull-on dress had torn. Big, heartfelt tears rolled down her face. I don’t know whose heart ached more as we stared at that sleeve hanging askew.
“Fix it mommy.”
“I can’t. This one we cannot fix, bug.”
I could have mounted a rescue attempt. But the rubber is worn and stretched and cracked from the love of many handlings.
“Want to make a new one?” I asked.
We got the fabric out. She nimbly selected the right scraps and bits to suit her vision.
She starts cutting from the middle of the fabric. Something inside me wants to commandeer the scissors. We cut from the edge of the fabric. My hands shift a bit as I contemplate her small fingers, busily working the scissors.
Does it matter? No.
But to some tightly wound, fragile part of me, it did. It is hard work to loosen a tight jaw and shoulders. To still those eager hands. To quiet a repetitive script about waste and doing things the right way.
I’d told her once before, softly.
Today she, immersed in purpose and delight, does not remember.
It doesn’t matter when you are seven, if the glitter is messy or fabric is an expensive thing. It doesn’t matter that the glue is everywhere or markers stain the table.
She is making things. That is all her fingers care to do, and they are clearly in charge.