Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sandals, Crocs, or Sneakers - The big stuff

Time was when I was in charge. When my daughter was much younger - oh, about two - and I got to decide what she would wear, eat, read, learn, etc. Now, though, at six, she believes she’s in charge. Quite frankly, I’ve come around to that understanding, too. Not that she’s in control of everything, mind you. But, the big stuff? Well, she’s got a handle on it. And, her grip is getting stronger.

When I say the “big stuff” I mean she has an awful lot to say about what she’ll wear, how she wants me to braid her hair for the week, what shoes she thinks match her outfits on any given day. These are the big things for a six-year old if you think about it. How she presents herself to the world is important, and at six, she’s figured that out.

Many of my friends tell me that this is right on time for a girl. It will only get worse as she gets older, they threaten. “You just wait . . .,” they say. I imagine she’ll become more opinionated. She’s my girl, after all. There will be tension between us, as there is now with regard to clothes matching, shoes, and determining what still fits and what doesn’t.

Really, I can’t get angry about our disagreements at a very deep level. I do want her to follow my directions, especially when we are short on time in the mornings. But, I also want her to learn how to make up her own mind, live authentically, listen to her own heart and mind. So, disagreeing over a skort or shorts for day camp is a hassle but not a tragic misstep in her development. Instead, I’m glad she’s got a mind of her own and is willing to take on a primary authority figure to defend her desires.

Some will say I’m just spoiling her. I say I’m raising a girl who loves herself, enjoys the power and responsibility of making up her own mind. I’m raising a girl who was not as timid about her own right to her own opinion as I was when I was six. Being honest about who you are and what you believe, then having the courage to stand up for your ideas takes practice. My girl is getting practice, every time we clash - sandals, crocs, or sneakers - every time she decides what she wants and lets me know. She won’t win every argument - I’m still the mom - but she will get practice at the “big stuff”! You go, girl!

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