There are some toddlers who play quietly and eat meals while sitting nicely in their high chairs. I observe these calm children, patiently working on a puzzle or reading a book. I see them in mommy and me classes, sitting nicely in the circle and listening to the teacher.
My daughter is not like these children.
She is a wild one, a free spirit, loud and messy. I hear myself calling to her all day to slow down, stop running, not jump on the chair and stop trying to climb out of her crib. "Be careful!" I say to her, what seems like a thousand times a day. She leaves a trail of toys behind her. I find stickers in her hair. During mealtime, she moves from my lap to the floor to a regular chair, never staying in one spot for too long.
People make comments to me about her all of the time, in a good-natured way. They say things like, "Boy, you have your hands full," or "She's fast!" She is, and I do have my hands full. They talk about her "strong personality" and loud voice. Sometimes they ask if she ever sits still. No, not really.
But, I wouldn't change a thing about her.
My daughter does have a free-spirited personality with a side of loud, but I am also a pretty laid-back mother. I often say that I am so relaxed with rules because I want to chose my battles with her, but that's not the whole truth.
The truth is this: I know how much my daughter's life will change in the coming years and I want to allow her this freedom while I can. I know she will go to school and have to abide by rules. She will start spending less time outside and more time at a desk. There will be obligations and deadlines. This is what happens when you grow up.
Now, she can wear her Elsa dress all day, paired with a silly shirt. She can stay in her pajamas until 9 a.m. and eat breakfast while cooking in her toy kitchen. She can take her nap at noon or at one, and it doesn't really make a difference. Sometimes I let her have French toast for dinner and edamame for breakfast. Some days, it is because I don't have the energy to argue with her over inconsequential matters, but part of me allows her such freedom because I know it is fleeting.
Everyone has to grow up, but I want my daughter to hold onto the magic of being a toddler as long as possible. I want her to run around, uninhibited. I want her to understand the beauty of freedom.
I nod when people make comments about her energy and how active she is. But, her wild side is not just because of her -- its also because I allow it, within reason. I secretly want her to embrace this freedom for as long as she can. I want to give her spirit space to thrive.
Maybe I will regret my relaxed parenting down the line. Perhaps she will be a crazy teenager and I will blame myself for allowing what I did during her toddler years. I don't know. I do know that I love seeing how she is now: happy and free, without a care in the world. And I want my beautiful wild child to hold onto those feelings for as long as possible.
This post initially appeared on Becky's Blog.
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