Posted by Duff

2yr_redhead.jpg redhead picture by duffoliver

The Dervish has started planting her flag. My toast. My blankie. My mommy. Props to her for grasping first person possessive when I had been teaching her third.

Each day is a crusade to re-claim her chunk of the universe. She takes no prisoners. (I have the bruises to prove it.) She pushes (heavy) chairs around the house to access counters, sinks, beds. Fuzzy things both living and stuffed, beware. She climbs cabinet handles like a rock wall to retrieve  and assemble the sippy cup components necessary for her milk.

Have I mentioned I’m terrified? 

In most ways, she is typical.  She is just so much more than I expected. I am pleased she is so strong. Agile. Determined. It will serve her well to be a woman who claims what she wants, fights tooth and nail against what she doesn’t. (Most of the time,) I am happy to struggle now so she doesn’t have to later.

Because right now, out in the world, are those who will (try to) take what is rightfully hers. I’m not talking about material things. I’m talking about things that can’t be easily replaced: her confidence; her warmth; her endearing chutzpah. So I need to be careful not to do the same thing by mistake.

How do I help  her be who she is and stay who she is without raising the Antichrist (aka an adult with a horrific sense of entitlement and no discipline)? This dilemma haunts me. A lot. This is the most important work I will ever do. So:

I let her get frustrated. A lot. And does she ever. Hell hath no fury like a Dervish frustrated.

Try again, I say cheerfully, as she shrieks a high C and beats couch cushions into next Tuesday. Pause. Can I help?

You’re trying so hard and learning so much. I’m so proud of you, her father says as he tucks her in at night. This seems to be the mantra that keeps her in bed long enough to fall asleep after many, many laps around the house. She isn’t nearly as interested in claiming her bed as she is in overtaking my dinner plate.

I imagine a lot of people would say we’re too permissive. We let her try too much. We really don’t have a choice, and we have brick-wall-to-forehead battle scars, if anyone would like to see them. I promise we’re trying really, really hard to do the right thing.

Our goal is to teach her that the world is her oyster, but she will have to do her own diving. Life doesn’t hand you a string of pearls just for showing up.

I hope we’re not screwing up royally.

Recommended reading: Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, Joan Declaire, and Daniel Goleman