As I stated previous, Cecilia is very TWO, and the last few months have been challenging. It seems like every minute she’s trying to explore her world and test boundaries. It occurred to me the other day that this is when the real parenting begins. I’m not saying that parents of infants aren’t real parents, but rather, they aren’t quite “parenting”. With babies, the main goal is to keep them alive and thriving - take care of their needs by nurturing their bodies. But when they become toddlers, especially older toddlers, you have to start nurturing their souls, and that’s when it gets really hard (at least in my opinion). Mending a little body is much easier than mending a little soul.
I’ve found this responsibility to be overwhelming at times. It’s very tricky to find the right balance of discipline and openness that creates both a structured and empowering environment. How do you control and correct a two year old’s behavior without risking harm to their fiery spirit? How do you build their self-confidence while teaching them to value others? How do create an environment that is loving and open while still maintaining individuality and space? It’s all so new and different from the baby years. Yes, those were hard, especially when I couldn’t figure out why my small child was crying, but I think these years are harder and more long lasting. At least I’ve finally shaken that “new parent anxiety”.
One thing I’ve been trying to do is assign Cecilia tasks without making them commands. (The commands weren’t working!) So instead of saying, “Find your shoes,” I’ll say, “Will you help me get ready? What shoes do you want to wear?” Cecilia loves to be part of whatever I’m doing, and she loves choices. Does it always work? Nope. Does it usually work? Nope. But even if it has the same results as just saying “Find your shoes,” it still fosters a more independent and loving environment, and it’s just as easy to say.
We’ve tried giving Cecilia some independence when it comes to her clothing. Some days we let her choose between two options, but if we have more time (a lot more time), we let her have mostly free reign on her wardrobe (no jammies to school, which gets requested often). Today Cecilia asked to wear her Wiggles shirt from the Wiggles concert that she saw with her grandparents. I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite shirt. It’s a bit androgynous, and I like to put my cute girl in cute girly clothing. But, eh, it’s just a shirt. When it was nearly time to leave for school, I asked her to go find some socks while I put on my shoes. She was gone for quite a while so I figured she got distracted, but when I found her, she was sitting in front of her sock draw and exclaimed “I got socks!” Well, almost, kiddo. She actually put on leg warmers. You know what? I let her wear them. It won’t hurt sending her to school with leg warmers over her pants and taking them off might hurt her self-esteem. I did, however, put some socks on her too.