Just a quick one, cuz it’s been 10 days…
Posted On March 5, 2012
Vera has decided to start sleeping on the couch in the living room. I tried to bargain her out of it, to get her to sleep in her own bed that her father lovingly built for her, but I'm finding that I just don't want to fight these small battles. I remember being a kid, finding wonder in new places. I remember crawling into the kitchen cabinets and wishing it could just be my little house. I remember wishing I could turn the bathtub into my bed- I liked the glow of the lights through the shower curtain. And nothing compared to sleeping beneath a tree full of lights on a winter night. I'm sitting next to her while I write this, her eyes heavy and slowly blinking her into sleep. I worry that she'll be too cold but she insists she does not. want. another. blanket. I'll sneak one on her later…
Today we were at her ballet/tap class (which she was SO excited about in the beginning) and she decided to quit in the middle of the class. She came out, very matter of fact, and said "My brain hurts, it's too boring…" and "I don't want to do what they tell me to do." and "Mama, you're a squirm pot! Ahahaha!" All of this in front of the other parents and siblings waiting for their own little four year old dancers. It was funny. I tried to talk her into going back in a little, but in the end she just gave me a firm and calm "No." She doesn't want to go back, either. She said she'd rather dance however she likes, not how they tell her to.
This is my girl. My spunky, smart, willful, funny, sweet, beautiful little four year old. Vera Jean- I felt her strong and wild energy while I was pregnant and just kind of misinterpreted that feeling to mean she was a boy. Out she came, and as we got to know her it all just made sense. Oh that's who you are. You are Vera. You are exactly yourself.
I am approaching these things with a different attitude than I had imagined I would. I thought about it, and I realized I don't think there is any value in getting my kids to do something just because I tell them to (the only exception to this is when it comes to safety). I briefly attempted to give Vera time-outs when she turned 2, and we had a terrible battle of wills that left us both stressed and defeated. What worked better? Go figure, explaining it to her and giving her choices! It was like night and day. She is a little person, but a whole person. She is a person who cares greatly about owning her life. She does need to be guided and given boundaries, but I've found that reinforcing natural consequences and being careful to explain why we do the things we do has really gotten us to good places with her. She wants to be good, she wants to have friends, she wants to be healthy and strong. She wants to give and receive love. These things are so easy to tap into with her, and it gets difficult when I let my ego get in the way and try to force something with her.
I appreciate the way that her bright personality has gotten me to challenge the norm, and to realize that I don't actually want my kids to "obey" or to "follow-through" or to submit to any authority. I want them to choose good. I want them to choose to learn because they desire the knowledge rather than the feedback. I want them to question those who tell them to do something without a good enough explanation. I mean, I realized quickly that the only good reason to make her finish this dance class would have been so that Jeff and I felt better about having spent the money on it. Not a very good reason. Although I could probably have made it about teaching her how to commit to something or learn some level of self-discipline, why not make it about spending every Monday afternoon dancing around to Billy Joel and playing with her cousins? It was always about fun.There are so many other really good reasons to commit and to practice self-discipline in this life, I don't think that's something I'm going to need to orchestrate much.
Anyway, I guess long story short, I am happy to have the challenge of parenting this little soul. I am up for it. I feel like I'm the right mother for her.