I want the kids to do things for themselves. I really, really do. If they don't learn to put socks on by themselves they'll end up living in my basement, making messes and never running the vacuum. I can imagine how dramatically different our mornings will be when they make their own lunches and breakfasts and can clean up without making the "clean" version look worse than the original dirty that was already there.
But honestly, there are times when the words, "I want to do it myself!" terrify me. When Dominic says, "I want to cut the chicken with a knife! By MYSELLLLLLLLF!" That's scary.
And then there are the times when "doing self" is simply exasperating. We're already late so waiting for a kindergartener to painstakingly squeeze the perfect amount of toothpaste on her Firefly toothbrush (blue! not the red one!) is akin to agony. I know she should be encouraged to take care of her own oral hygiene, but we're LATE.
Everyone with older kids keeps saying it's critical to do chores side-by-side so your progeny learns responsibility and the value of pitching in. Ok. Fine. But when I am scrubbing the toilet with the toilet brush and Dominic comes in and declares, "Oohhhhh!!! I wanna do it!!!" I'd rather be doomed to be his cleaning woman forever than to watch him brandish that sopping, toilet-grime covered brush.
When I think about Gianna, semi-grown-up, driving herself places....I kinda want to hit up Brad's Advair.
There has to be some happy medium between not letting your 16 year old ride their bike a couple blocks to the library and letting the same kid circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat.
To be honest, I want to believe I lean more to the sailboat side of things. After all, for most of history teenagers have been treated as adults. Alexander the Great was 16 when he first led an army; Cleopatra was 18 when she became the queen of Egypt. Teens used to get married and have babies and work and not be on TeenMom. It was life, and in many parts of the world, that is still how it goes down. But their childhood! I know. I know. We have quite a luxury in this country, to basically extend childhood well into our early 20's. But I wonder sometimes what good that has done.
Others have written more profoundly and well-researched opinions about the importance of those in their teens years being given meaningful work, all I can say is that they are on to something. I want to raise my children so that when they enter their teen years they are ready for adulthood. How to do that in this culture, I don't exactly know.
Motherhood is such a paradox. My job is to form them and guide them into little mensches
which means allowing them to goof up and get dirty and maybe a little
hurt but every fiber of my being wants to keep them close and
bubble-wrapped. It's almost super-natural, to help them grow up but not too quick, cuddle them but not coddle them, protect them but not make them soft.
I can see how behind the fears there is the good. Allowing our littles to venture out when they are ready sends a message that we are confident in them. That while we worry we are also assured that they can navigate this wild and interesting world. I was so nervous when I took my little two-and-a-half year old Gianna to school for the first time. She was so little, it was never our plan for things to happen that way. But now I see that because we pushed through the fears to what we knew would be best for her, she has the confidence that she can do anything a hearing person can do.
Maybe sometimes we have to embrace what is scary so we can get to the good stuff.