On a recent morning, my daughter was playing alone in her room. I felt comfortable being in another room because she has a lot of toys and books to pick from to keep her busy. When I checked on her after some time, I found her sitting on the floor in a sea of books. With a proud smile, she handed me a piece of paper that turned out to be a piece from a pop-up book. Upon a closer glance, I realized she had ripped off anything that wasn’t fixed flatly on a page. The flaps and lifts and pop-up parts were all victims of her sticky fingers.
As I was about to correct her and teach her the lesson of caring for your things, she started showing me all of her pickings. I ushered her out of the room so I could assess the damage. Before she left, she collected all of the separated pieces, kissed them and put them in her hands as she took off for the next part of her journey. She was caring for her things. My assessment was that I was the one who could have done damage, not her. Correcting her could have been the beginning of a series of parenting mistakes that would take away from her creativity, independence, confidence, and expression.
I am trying to be conscious of how many I use in our exchanges, and how many restrictions I set as part of establishing boundaries, while asking myself if they are really necessary. How many no’s did I hear and continue to hear now? And how have they affected me? Only years of therapy and self-help can determine the answer to that question, but in the meantime I am not really willing to fully chance it only daughter.
I glued and taped her books back together, and if she wants to tear it apart again she can. Today I am debating the value of a blue pen goatee on her chin and crayon colored couches. And with each decision, I measure the value of matter against her matter of independence and creativity.
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