Thursday, September 6, 2012

Miss (In)Dependent

As my daughter begins the new school year, I've been thinking a lot about how I can encourage a little more independence from her.  I don't want her to move out or anything - I just want her to feel more comfortable doing things on her own and taking on a little more responsibility.

I have started with little things. For example, when we go to the grocery store I can tell her, "Go to the frozen foods aisle, pick out some ice cream, and then meet me back here."  I can be reasonably certain that she will find the ice cream and return to me without getting abducted or anything. It is sort of nice when kids reach an age when you don't have to have your eyeballs on them every second. When she is in her room playing Barbies, I feel pretty confident that she is not actually drinking Windex or something (a legitimate concern when she was a toddler).

At church, I teach Religious Education about once a month. I teach the pre-K through first grade class. Yes, I am terrible with kids and I'm sure the kids know it, but we muddle through. I had always assumed that I would just move up to teach the older classes as my daughter moved up through the age groups. Now I've changed my mind. This year, I am staying with the younger group and she will move up. My daughter is disappointed, but I am doing it for her. I think she needs to learn to be away from me. When I was teaching the class that she was in, she was very clingy and protective. One day, a little girl in the class fell and hit her head. Needless to say, I ran over and scooped her up so that I could comfort her. My kid blew a gasket. "You love her more than me?!" Similar scenes were played out over and over last year.

In nine months or so, my daughter will fly by herself for the first time.  It will be a direct flight.  I'll be at one end and my mom will be at the other. We'll have gate passes and can go straight to the gate with her at both airports. My niece flew by herself to visit us when she was the same age, so I feel like my daughter will be able to handle it. Or at least I am hoping so. I have reason to be a little concerned, such as the recent failed attempt at a sleepover. And the daily tantrums in the a.m. She still asks us to carry her pretty frequently. Have I done too much for her, thereby stunting her emotional and intellectual growth?

Honestly, I'm still on my first (and only) pass with this parenthood thing so I'm not sure what to expect from her sometimes. I have no baseline against which to compare her capabilities. Is it reasonable to expect her to put her dirty clothes down the chute? I feel like it is. Put her dish in the sink when she's done eating? Do a few chores around the house? All reasonable, I think, but I have to ask her a hundred thousand times and then I turn into a screeching harpy and then I think, "This is not the kind of mom I wanted to be!"

On one hand, I still want to be my daughter's number one guide/protector/chef/teacher/lackey. But on the other hand, I suspect that she is capable of pouring milk in her own cereal, despite her attempts to convince me otherwise. What's a mom to do?

It doesn't seem that hard, does it?

3 comments:

radioactivegan said...

If you figure out that dishes in the sink thing - let me know! I've got a boyfriend and a few (grown up) friends who could use that lesson.

Sammy said...

I've just gotta say, thanks for posting as often as you do! I love your blog and have for years! And for years you have kept it fresh, funny, and current!

Thank you!!

Alabaster Mom said...

Thank you for the nice compliment! I'll bet you were glad when my daughter was potty-trained. I wrote about poop a lot in the early blog entries . . .

Thanks for sticking with me!