I realized I was treating my 6-year-old like an adult.
I was annoyed at the behaviors I was seeing in her and I wondered why she couldn’t “just do what I say.” It seems so simple, but when it finally hit me that she’s a kid and not a staff member or fellow volunteer, it was a startling observation. I want her to grow up to be a successful adult and I believe she will be but, I needed to start letting her be a kid, pronto. I want her to be having fun every day and worrying about playing hard, not worrying about grown-up things.
In my ever-too-busy mind, I was thinking some pretty unsettling thoughts about my amazing nearly 7-year-old daughter and trying to figure out why she couldn’t deal with some of the following:
- Couldn’t she pick out her clothes? She couldn’t, with or without prompting, without a decent dose of whining.
- Get dressed faster. Geez, how long does it take to put on pants?
- Brush her own teeth. I was thinking this even though our dentist reminded us that it takes until they are 7 or 8 to master the motor skills it takes to be a good brusher.
- Make her own food. I know, I’m a terrible mom for thinking this.
- Do what I asked the first time. Not unlike some coworkers I’ve had in the past. Come on kid, just do the thing. Quickly.
- Go to bed without a story. We’ve groomed her to have a story before bed. Every single night. I firmly believe this does so much for her comprehension and reading skills, but I couldn’t help but wonder why she couldn’t just go to sleep. (Duh mom, she needs wind down time too)
- Talking back. What are we 6 going on 16? Why must she ask a thousand questions when I asked her to do something? Why must she respond to every single thing I said? All I wanted her to do was stop and then I realized I was doing the same thing to her.
My kid is not an adult. She is a kid.
Placing grown-up expectations on a person who is not a grow-up was setting us both up for failure and disappointment. If I don’t let her be a kid, then very soon she will be an adult and we’ll both miss it all. So, along with taking more breaks, I’ve vowed to allow her for freedom to just be a kid, while she still can.
Allowing her to be a kid is including, but not limited to:
- Staying up all night if we don’t have any early day events the next day. She usually lasts until about 8:30pm and if we’re lucky she wakes around 7.
- Sitting down in the outfield at baseball. Because she’s almost 7 and sometimes not into baseball even though I want so much for that to be her thing.
- Keeping her blankie close at all times. Even if that means that sometimes sneaking it into her backpack.
- Play. As much play as possible. While I realize second grade is looming and sooner we’ll be hitting the books, I’m done nagging. I want her to read, but I’m not going to force it. I want her to do a math sheet or two, but I’m not going to force it. I want her to play.
- Sleep in. While I love our early mornings, I really want her to sleep. We’ve turned a corner where she spends more morning time sleeping in on the weekends. I love this. I know she needs the sleep and I know her body is figuring out how to give it to her.
- Eat good food. And treats too. I’m not done nagging about making good food choices, but for the rest of the summer, I’m allowing a few more treats. A little extra something after a hard day outside at camp. A Popsicle that turns tongues cherry-red or blue-raspberry purple never hurt anyone, did it?
I’m so glad I realized that I need to change my ways sooner than later. Of course, part of our jobs as parents is to train our kids to become kind, responsible adults. But at the same time, that training cannot be rushed.