Monday, January 25, 2010

Mr. Independence

My son thinks he knows better than his Mama. I realize that this stage will pass and return with a vengeance once puberty hits, but it is bothersome.

Usually this attitude isn't a big deal, just a minor annoyance and a great opportunity to teach about natural consequences.

-I told him to wait for me to roll up his sleeves before washing his hands. So he immediately stuck his hands under the faucet. One day he'll learn that his sleeves do get wet if you don't pull them back.

-I told him to pick up his magnets and put them back on the fridge or I would take them away. So he threw all of the magnets and walked off. He lost his magnets that day. One day he'll learn that he should listen to Mama because she does what she says she'll do.

Sometimes, this defiance can be dangerous.

-I told him the crock-pot was hot and not to touch it. So he touched it. He wasn't burned, thank God, but he learned that the crock-pot is hot and now he repeats, "'ot" (that's "hot" in his toddler-speak) over & over again while pointing at it on the counter.

-I told him to come back to me while he was running around at the park. So he laughed and ran further away. I hid behind a tree so that I could see him but he couldn't see me. He panicked when he finally turned around. He learned that running away means that you can get lost and be separated from your family - two things he most definitely does not want to happen, based on his reaction.

And sometimes he learns a new skill by pushing his boundaries.

-I told him to wait for me to hold his hand before going down the slide. So he pushed himself down all by himself. And he landed safely. He looked at me, beaming, and proceeded to dance for a few seconds. He was proud of himself and I was proud of my little boy.

I'm not raising a robot, a dog, or anything that I should expect to receive total obedience from. I'm raising a child who will one day be a man. I need to remember that it means he will need to push the envelope and explore his body's limits and his surroundings. I need to understand that part of growing up sometimes includes getting hurt and I will need to let him make his own decisions at the appropriate time - of course, assuming he's not choosing to break the law.

I don't know how long he has been able to go down the slide by himself. But I'm glad that he didn't listen to me because he gained true self-esteem by accomplishing a task on his own. As much as I want to cling him to me, I will sometimes need to let go so he can grow.

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