I have a lot of time to sit and think at night. I used to be able to read every time I nursed the baby, but when she is going to sleep she needs it to be dark, and the turning of pages bothers her, so at night there’s no distraction for me. Sometimes I daydream about what I’d like to do around the house if we had unlimited funds and time. Sometimes I daydream about situations that willa rise when she is older – disciplining stuff, and understanding stuff, and how I’d handle problems at school for her… things like that. We have so many intentions, but the longer we are parents the more it is rammed home to us that you can’t plan for everything, because never mind all the changes WE go through as we get older, but the kid and what she needs… that’s going to be completely unpredictable until we know what sort of person she is going to be at 8, or 13, or 17. How much discipline, how much protection, how much freedom she is going to need is going to be… a take it as it comes kind of thing. All we can do is help her grow up with a brain, and the self confidence that she’ll need to make good decisions for herself regardless of what the people around her might be telling her. I’m not just talking about peer pressure either, I’m talking about teachers and other people in authority, you know? Kids and drugs and sex aren’t the only things to be wary of out there. Christ and who even knows what the world is going to be like in 15 to 20 years? It’s changed so much since my parents were young, and since I was a kid. I don’t even know what kind of concerns she’ll have.
That’s always been something we thought was important to teach her – confidence. Not arrogance. Every kid has that to some extent. They think they know better than people who are twice their age, who’ve lived more. They think their experiences are unique. They think that rules are just there to keep them in their place. I’m not talking about that attitude. I’m talking about the ability to say NO to people, without being afraid of going off on your own. About being able to BE alone, not to always need a friend or a parent with you to make your decisions for you. The ability to know what you want, and to know that it is what YOU want, not what someone else wants for you, or what you SHOULD want. I want her to be able to be her own company, and I want her to be comfortable with doing her own thing.
I also want her to be able to play alone when she is small. HA! Not entirely altruistic, am I? No.
So I was thinking about this little girl we saw on the ferry to Vancouver island in September ’09. This was before Éowyn was walking on her own – we also think it was the catalyst for her learning to walk, actually. She saw all these kids running around! And it kind of niggled at her, I think. 🙂 One of these kids was a little girl, about the age that Éowyn is now. She was with her dad, and following him around so nicely! Like his little shadow, all he had to do was tell her, come over here, or go over there, and she’d follow him. It was the cutest thing. I remember wishing so hard for the day that my kid could do that, instead of having to be carried everywhere, and never put down because she’d crawl all over the floors no matter how filthy they were. So now she walks! Everywhere! But she does not follow us, NO. Oh no, she does not. And because of that, she uses her carriage A LOT MORE than she needs to. I don’t mind the constant picking up of stones, or the examinations of every leaf, or the way she tries to pick up sticks even though it’s clear that she knows she’s not supposed to. What I mind is the constant switching of directions, and inability to LISTEN to simple directions like “this way” “come on” and “stay OUT OF THE ROAD”. She never follows us. Not unless she happens to want to go in the same direction.
So I started thinking, shit, what are we doing wrong? We aren’t teaching her properly! We aren’t being strict enough! Why isn’t she learning!
And then I realized. It’s not that she isn’t as smart as that little girl. It’s not that she can’t listen, or doesn’t understand. She just isn’t the kind of kid who follows us around. She just wants to go where SHE wants to go. There’s NOTHING wrong with that little kid who follows her dad – hell I’d love it if MY kid did that. And there’s nothing wrong with Éowyn. She’s just really independent. And willful. And stubborn. And… and I’m going to stop there. It’s just the way she is. She might not follow me around, and go where I tell her – but she can go to sleep on her own. And she can play with her blocks by herself. And she can take her tumbles and walk away from me and know that I’m going to be there when she turns around. And I guess we’re doing what we set out to do.
SO YOU BETTER KEEP RUNNING DADDY MAN!