Sunday, March 14, 2010
Lessons Learned Through Independence
Lily discovered independence full force this week! Two days ago she caught us off guard with the most bold thing she has ever tried. It was a laugh with some seriousness behind it. The story goes like this....
Lily had gotten up, and dressed herself almost first thing, while my husband and I still sat on the sofa in our pj's. As we were talking about what the day would hold for us, Lily preceded to put her mud boots, and coat on. She then marched over to where my husband sat, and told him, "I going to get Jabez, and Kota, and bring them back here to play with me today." Jabez is her best friend, whom I am sure she could not survive with out! Kota is Jabez's 7 month old baby brother~Lily is convinced that Kota also belongs to her. She was very matter of fact in telling us what she was going to do. No asking, no questioning in her voice, not a single drop of insecurity about accomplishing what she wanted to do.
She then, to our shock, went to the door and tried to leave. She couldn't get it open, and asked for help. After questioning her we discovered two things; that she was going to walk the mile and a half to her friends house, and that she really believed she could do this on her own! We decided to let her try, knowing that there would be something to learn at the end, not wanting to crush the dreams of what she thought she could do, and doubting that she would make it far. So laughingly, my husband opened the door.
Our almost 4 year old girl marched right down the stairs and into the driveway! I watched through the window as she looked at the road, and looked at the car. We were keep a close eye on her for when we needed to bolt if she headed to the highway. I watched her looking back and forth, then she turned around and came right back up the stairs. "I forgot my keys, I going to take the car" she said. Again we were a bit shocked, and asked her if she thought she was going to drive the car. She replied with a yes, and asked where her keys were!! So we gave her Brian's keys, knowing that it was very touchy and she would never be able to get it right.
We watched again as she marched down the stairs, to the car, and climbed in the drivers seat. She shut the door, and then we saw the hazards turn on, then the head lights. She was trying. We watched her play around with the buttons and knobs. Finally she opened the door. Then she yelled for help! She simply wanted us to turn it on, then she could drive!! Wow, what independence. We told her that if she wanted to do this she would have to try. We were not going to get the boys. So she closed the door again, and tried for a minute more.
Then we watched as she crawled out of the car, and came back upstairs. We thought she had given up. Boy were we wrong. "I forgot my baby. I need to take my baby." she told us in reference to her baby doll. We watched as she grabbed her baby, took it down the stairs and buckled her into her own car seat! Then she went back to the drivers seat and climbed back in. About a minute later she opens the door again, and asks if we would come sit in the seat next to her...the passenger seat! Of course we were not going to miss the opportunity to see what she was up to, so we went. Me in the front, and Brian in the back we waited to see what she would do. She continued to mess with everything she could reach. Then she asked me to work it for her. :) I told her no. Then I told her that perhaps she is not ready to drive a car yet. My husband following my lead said "Lily can you see over the steering wheel? Because if you can't then how will you be able to drive." Not missing a beat she replied, "I can if I sit on my knees." Then she demonstrated. We told her that we just didn't think the car was going to drive for her today. That was all it took, she got out of the car.
Then she announced "Ok, I'll walk!" She headed strait for the road. I decided that I would let her go, but follow close behind since we live on a busy road. She was so determined. Usually I would not let her take anything this far, but I was totally at peace with it, and felt we should continue. So I told my husband to follow us in the car in case she couldn't make it the 1 1/2 miles, and I followed her on foot. We stopped to look at worms, and talk to birds. There are several side roads before the one we needed. She took the first road, walked about 1/2 a block, then realized this is not the right road. So we turned around. The next block we came to the same thing happened. We walked part way, then turned back around. I was not helping her in any way. She was so sure she could do this, and by this point I was really wondering if she could! The third side street we came to, she stopped, looked down it, and decided it was not the right road because "This not it, it has no cars on it." The next road was the one we needed, and as we got closer she recognized that. She started yelling, "This is it, this is the road! I so happy, I going to get Jabez and Kota!!" So we turned down the road, and kept walking, jumping, skipping, and marching, depending on the level of excitement at that very moment! Boy she was a trouper! I watched as my husband followed us with his hazards on. He was keeping enough distance to not be seen by our daughter.
At one point she told me that because we didn't have the car, "Mommy you carry Kota back, and Jabez can hold my hand." Making sure I had understood her, she wanted me to carry an 18 lb baby 1 1/2 miles back while she expected her friend to walk right along with her. Yup, that's right.
The longer we walked the slower she got. Twice she asked me to carry her. I told her, "No, I won't carry you. Either we can keep walking, or we can go home and you can play with the boys a different day." She would not give up! She was taking it all in, the houses, the lines on the road, the trash on the side of the road, she even informed me that the storm drain was "Yucky, and where snakes live" as we walked past it. As we approached our friend's road, she said "I want my stroller" and turned around. I asked her if we were almost there? She looked around and said yes, and continued to march on.
It was right about that time I looked back at my hubby in the car to see that he had been pulled over by a cop!! It wasn't a surprise, several had drove by and I had been keeping an eye on him following us in the car. I had to laugh, and we kept right on walking, knowing that it wasn't a big deal. As we kept walking, I realized they held him there for quite a while. I also realized that he, like me, was still in his pj's and probably did not have his wallet on him! That's right the whole time this is taking place we are still in pajamas. I was walking down the road in old bottoms, flip flops, and no bra!!
After what seemed like a very long time I see a cop pull up to sit with my husband, and another cop pulls up along side me. He asks me what is going on, and I confirm that yes, he is my husband, and yes, I did ask him to follow me in the car. No, he is not a stalker. The the officer asked me, "Why are you walking, while he is driving? What happened between you guys?" I explain to him that nothing happened. I told him a very short version of Lily wanting to see her friends. He then replies with, "This little one, she can't make up her mind like that" Oh you want to bet!! Obviously she did! I continued walking the whole time mind you, and kind of just made him walk right along beside us. They finally decided that my husband's story and mine matched, and they let him go. Apparently, he is not a stalker!
The rest of the walk passed slowly, my little girl had slowed down tremendously. It was rather uneventful from here out. I talked to her about asking if her friends could play, and not just demanding, and expecting it. So she made it! 1 1/2 miles, and was very happy to see her friend's house. She marched up, and rang the bell. Oh the shocked look on my friend's face to see us there. You see I didn't mention...I am sick. Have been for a while. Coughing my lungs out the entire way. But, so worth it to follow this through. So I told Lily to ask, and indicated to my friend to say no. After Lily heard no, I knelt down and told her that maybe next time it would be a better idea to talk to mommy, and call before walking all the way over here.
You should have heard the gasp my friend let out! Of course after explaining that I walked with her I think my friend was only slightly more at ease. :)
Lily accepted that she would not get to take her friends home, and so we loaded up in the car and left. When we got home, we sat down and talked to her about learning to make the best choices. I think she could honestly see that walking was not the best choice, calling was. We also talked to her about independence, and while we think it is a good thing to try something she should always ask first, not demand. I do think it was good for her to try doing this, because even though she didn't succeed, she learned that it is ok to try. It is ok, to reach for something even if you don't get it. She learned to accept it when something doesn't turn out the way you want it to. She had fun while trying. I'm sure these lessons will need to be learned over and over again, but we now have a reference when talking to her about choices, independence, and trying to do things. It was worth it for those lessons, but the laughs and fun we had would have been enough.