“Or worse than all that…Why, you might be a WASN’T! A Wasn’t has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t. A Wasn’t just isn’t. He just isn’t present. But you…You ARE YOU! And, now isn’t that pleasant!” – Dr. Seuss
Seven years ago I gave birth to this little munchkin. This spunky, clever, industrious and giggly Claudia who I am so glad to call ours. But all this delight comes in a complicated package, just like your kids I’m sure. So I want to share two stories, giving you a more complete picture of this terrific kiddo.
When Claudia was two she decided she wanted to be a super hero. She didn’t karate chop her sister’s, smash through doors or save neighborhood cats. No… she stripped naked and colored a super hero costume on her body with sharpie markers. I still remember the excited face she was wearing when she came to show me her work. But I didn’t have quite the enthusiasm she did. I admit to being unhappy. But when I saw her face sink I knew I was wrong. She hadn’t meant to be “naughty”. She meant to be the best version of herself she could be. So I hugged her and told her she was creative and precious and super. And then I cleaned her up and bought her a costume instead. Claudia loved that costume and the smile she had when she wore it was deeper that materialism. She knew I understood her heart and encouraged her dreams.
At three we found ourselves at a similar crossroads. Claudia wanted to cut her hair. She didn’t want a “hair cut”. No. She wanted to cut off all her hair. I said no because well, you can’t really do that right? But she asked every day. Finally, I came upon her in the kitchen with a pair of scissors. A chunk of her hair was missing. And I had two options. Remembering a year ago and the sadness I caused by my disappointment I took her in my arms and asked her if she really wanted to cut her hair off. She assured me she did. So… I gave her some kid scissors and told her to have fun cutting it all off. And she did.
Every child is different. They will have different strengths and different weaknesses. Claudia thrives on the ability to make her own decisions. And as her mom I do my best to create a safe place for her to explore decision making. And when I do this, she grows. When she is met with arbitrary rules and constraints she is so easily frustrated so I try to remember, even when the request seems contrary to my preferences, that she is a unique person with preferences different from mine. Of course she can’t always be a free spirit and do as she pleases, but I try as often as I can to let her be HER.
So happy birthday you great big seven year old. I hope you explore the world your way this year and learn to make wise choices. I’m cheering you on and encouraging you. And watching you thrive reminds me to be fearless in discovering my own dreams.