Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Parenting Continues

It's fun to get to the stage of parenthood that actually requires more than pulling out a breast/ rocking a baby to sleep-- however noble both of those things might be. I am definitely one of those parents that loves watching children come into their own. Newborns are cute, and I'm excited to meet this next one, but it's so cool to see Zosia at an age that she can actually express herself, show us her personality, show us how she views the world. It definitely does seem like parenthood gets better and better with time, but it also starts to feel like a greater responsibility.

Last night Ben and I had a little parenting huddle about Zosia. Now, those of you who have met Zosia know that she has always been a little firecracker. She has strong feelings about the way the world around her should be ordered and lets us know about it. She's almost always the one requesting that things happen a certain way, and can get very frustrated when the world does not comply. It's hilarious to watch our OCD toddler work her way around the house. She'll make sure that all of the closet doors are closed, put all of the trash in the trashcan, even put laundry in the hamper. She hates getting dirty, and as our backyard is currently more mud than grass, it takes a great deal of coaxing to even get her to step into the yard, because she'll scrunch her face up and proclaim, "Muddy!" When Irene and I were prepping the garden we tried to convince her to get in the dirt and shovel-- forget about it. Zosia just has a concrete idea of what is proper and what is not and likes to stick to the rules.

So how do we parent this little child? How do we help her live in a world that does not always comply to one's sense of order? And how do we help her use the gifts of her personality-- and every aspect of Zosia or any child's personality truly is a gift-- in the most graceful way possible? We honestly are not sure how we will approach these questions over the next sixteen or howevermany years. But I think that for now we've agreed to try to help her maintain a minimal sense of order while also trying to help her get a sense that some things aren't a big deal. For us, this means sometimes letting her "get away" with things that we might not necessarily allow a child with a different temperment to do. For example, one of the few times of day that Zosia is really truly playful and mischievous is when she is eating. She just sees the creative potential in the messy, interesting things that she eats. At times, we've cracked down on her impolite table manners, which it's tempting to do, especially when we're in public or around family and friends. But really, this child just needs to play and be funny and realize that it's okay to get dirty. I'm sure if one day we decide we don't want her to continue with her dinner silliness, it will take all of one or two times of correction for her to decide, of her own will, that she doesn't want to continue-- she's just that kind of kid. But for now, we're valuing the development of her creativity and curiosity over her rule following, because that's what it seems like she needs.

And, the flip side of the issue is also true-- we've learned to become more ordered in ways that seem to be important to Zosia. For example, Zosia seems to really like to have landmarks on our walks that give her a sense of where she is and where she is going. If we just turn around and start heading home, she might become upset (or if we're just wandering aimlessly, forget about it), but if we remind her that we're looking for the easter eggs on the tree or the owl in our neighbor's yard, she gets excited about looking for those landmarks and understands that we're going home. So I guess this whole parenting thing is a two way street-- as we're trying to develop and encourage one little person, we end up being challenged and transformed aswell.

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