Immediately after giving her name for check in at camp, Baylor raised her hand at me and said “I don’t need any help putting my bag away. Wait HERE”. I silently eyed her and let her pass to go through the locker room doors. The check in lady looked at me with a smile and I responded by rolling my eyes. “Miss. Independent” I said. “But that’s such a good thing! You need to encourage that”.
Her comment stuck with me. I couldn’t put my finger on what was bugging me about what the instructor had said. Yes of course I enjoy her independence! I love that she goes head first into an unknown situation and “figures it out” (her words). I watched from a distance as she missed the pool gate before it closed. She stood on the outside, unable to open it. She didn’t panic, she didn’t cry. She looked around, got the nearest tall person’s attention, motioned to the gate and then waited as they walked over to open it for her. She got separated from her group, so she walked around looking for them and when she couldn’t find them, she asked loudly to a group in the pool if anyone knew where the red group went. She handles it. And she does it really well. We joke that if we told her she could go to her friend’s house, but she had to figure out how to get there on her own, she could and would make it happen. So why was I not ok with her doing so much on her own?
I realized a few days later what my problem is; she’s five. She’s five with the self confidence of a much older child – the problem is that she has five year old judgement. Actually, that’s probably better than most kids her age too – but it’s not the same as a teenager’s judgement (God help me) or an adult’s. So while she knows what she’s doing – she may not actually be supposed to doing it.
A few days later, she came home with a very pink scalp and sholders. When I asked if she put on extra sunscreen and wore her hat, she said “well, part of the day”. I grumbled something about the instructors needing to push the sunscreen more and she said “well, they asked me, but I told them I put some on this morning”.
Ah ha! This is what I was talking about. Her self confidence fooled the adults. She’s smart. She’s independent. She’s convincing. Why wouldn’t they believe her when she said she already had on sunscreen? Because she’s five. That’s why.
The last thing I want to do is crush her spirit. Nor do I want anyone else to do the crushing. So where to go from here? I don’t know. Kindergarten is another year off and the safe halls of preschool are just a few months away. I’m hoping I have it figured out before then…!