Lessons in parenting a little girl can come at the most unexpected times.
After being cooped up in the house all day yesterday, the kids and I decided that today was the perfect day to hit up the park and get some fresh air. So, we headed to Stringtown Park. It is a great park with the rubber base (instead of mulch) and it has a nice variety of things for all three of the kiddos and it is pretty easy to see and find all the kids. The kids are finally old enough that they can go to the park with just one of us and we don’t have to worry too much about chasing them in three different directions.
Well, we got there are it was really a beautiful day. There were a few kids hanging around, but it wasn’t especially crowded. Big Man and Little Miss were eager to get out and make some new friends to hang out with. They have really gotten so good about approaching other children, introducing themselves, and asking if they’d like to play, so I wasn’t too worried. Little Miss spotted two girls, about her age, that she was interested in playing with. She looked at me hesitantly, then back at the girls, then back at me again. I encouraged her to go ahead and introduce herself, but she seemed unsure and that struck me as a bit odd. You see, Little Miss is one of the most confident, adventurous, devil-may-care children I know. She is pretty fearless and I’ve never seen her act so timid before and it gave me pause. Is this a new stage of uncharted territory? Why was she feeling so timid? I wanted to shout- Be confident! You are strong! Don’t be intimidated by those girls! But I just watched. I watched my little girl be uncertain for the first time. I watched her be wary, but at the same time, want to be accepted by those other little girls. I didn’t like seeing her that way-intimidated and uncertain, and I really didn’t want her to be rejected by those girls. The crazy mom in me just wanted to put her in a bubble and save her from feeling that way. But of course, I couldn’t then and I can’t now. I didn’t, and I don’t, want to her grow up and be in these situations, not matter how innocent they may seem. I always have flash backs to the movie, Mean Girls with Lindsay Lohan. (totally great movie though…)
As parents, we want to raise our children to be confident and smart, yet caring and kind. But at the same time, those same attributes come at a cost. Life, and in many cases, people teach us that we need to be confident, that we need to be smart. Those are some of the lessons in life that I suppose everyone must learn. How to be brave when you are feeling uncertain. How to approach a group. And yes, possibly get hurt or rejected. But more than that, I want to tell her to be wary of those you may want acceptance from. I’m sure those girls were mostly harmless but what I saw made me uncomfortable with this new stage we are headed for. Once upon a time, nothing could stop Little Miss. She did everything with confidence. She did her thing and that was it. Now, I’m not so sure and that is a bit scary. I’m not a helicopter mom (for the most part) so I hung back and kept tabs on Tiny and watched the scene play itself out. The three accepted her and they took off to play with one clearly being the “bossy” sort and Little Miss clearly “tagging” along.
I desperately wanted to ask, “Why do you want to be friends with someone so bossy? Don’t you see this is not a good thing? Don’t you see they are being a bit hurtful?” I wanted to point her in the direction of another set of girls, ones who seemed “nicer” or “friendlier.” Ones who I thought would be a much better choice. Ones I would choose.
So, what do you think I did?
What would you do?