It’s all about who’s the boss these days. The power struggle is epic around here and I don’t always win.
I’m not supposed to, now that I think about it. Our kids must both learn to take direction from their parents and to push some boundaries as they learn who they are. I guess I learned that mother does not always know best.
Obviously, some things are not negotiable. A bike helmet must always be worn when on a contraption with wheels. Scooter or bike I am steadfast, despite what havocit may wreak on one’s hair. None of my kids may cross the street without a grownup. I’m just a buzzkill like that. No biting or hitting anyone at any time. I know, I know…what fun is fighting then? You get the point – rules that pertain to preserving lives are not open for discussion.
There are topics where we compromise. As the months grew colder, Sophia’s love of sundresses and sparkly sandals became a problem. Every morning was a nightmare, a fight where no one ever really won. I ended up exhausted and Sophia defeated. Finally, I said she could wear whatever she wanted as long as there was a long sleeve shirt and tights or leggings underneath. She wants to be a rainbow but at least she is happy one. Each day she dresses in as many colors as possible. She mixes and matches those gorgeous clothes I bought her with glee, creating a new funky rainbow each and every day. We still argue about socks. I adore them and consider them a must in the winter. She insists that she has hot feet and hates itchy socks. We settled on Ugg knock-offs with no socks. She is obeying the you may not intentionally freeze your ass of rule while maintaining her own eclectic style.
Today, I actually gave in after listening to a very well prepared argument from a 4 year old little girl. Yes, an argument. Sophia has been in the same dance class at North Carolina Dance Theater for almost 2 years. For a month now, she has been complaining of boredom and of the many little girls in her class who don’t know what they are doing. She wanted to be in the older class, and she wanted to do tap. Honestly, I thought this was her standard attitudey self lately rearing its head. It ticked me off, and we argued about not wasting money on classes that she chose. I rambled on about sticking with things until the finish. I gave her the full on parent schpeel.
Then, she very calmly asked me yesterday if we could have a talk. I agreed, thinking maybe it would be another funny discussion planning her next birthday party, still 6 months away. Nope. She told me I did not understand her. She very calmly told me she had been in the same class for too long. (It has been more than 18 months). She explained that she was ready to do real dance moves. When I asked what they do, she said they do mostly simple exercises and stretching. She told me she just wanted to dance and that she would like me to think about how much she wants to tap. It was all very well said.
After I dropped her off yesterday I called the dance studio and they basically confirmed what she told me. They also said that there was no room in the 5 year old class and that she would remain in the class until the summer at the earliest. I immediately knew that Sophia was right. That class was not right for her, and it was not worth the time, energy and money it took to get her there every week. She was not being ridiculous…she was being honest.
I found her a pre-ballet and tap class at Charlotte School of Ballet. I presented this option to her after school yesterday, including the fact that at this date, she may be unable to perform in the recital. She said that was okay, she just really wanted to do more dancing and get her tap on. Today we went to her first class and I almost cried. They did little routines to music. They learned basic choreography and Sophia rocked my mommy world. She was so poised, so happy, such a big girl. When the tap portion of the class came, she was beaming as she tapped away in her brand new shiny shoes. After class the instructor asked me if we could come to the Monday class, with the girls who would be in the recital, to see how she did. She may have a chance at that recital yet!
I was wrong to ignore her plea for so long. She is no longer a 2 year old who goes to whatever activity I choose and sign her up for. She is growing up and becoming a little girl who knows what she wants. Even more importantly, she is learning how to have a real discussion with me as her parent. This, really, is terrifying. I can see a dangerous teenager. I was proud of her for coming to me with her problem and I am so glad I found the time to really listen and respond. That does not make me fear the teen years any less, but for now, it is good.
Before bed, Sophia have me a huge kiss and told me that I get her and she is happy I am her mom. My heart melted.
It is hard to let go but every day now there are more things that I realize will be a discussion and not just a mommy decision. That’s life.
Do you fight battles, have discussions or just plat out lay down the law? When are kids ready to make their own decisions? Most importantly, how soon will I regret opening this door