Those three words pretty much sum up each of the girls right now. They have always wanted to be independent in some way throughout their development, but it really seems like at this moment, all three are trying fiercely to exert their will. And it’s not all bad.
Let’s start with Aliya. She literally says, “I do it!” if you try and do something for her that she wants to try or do differently. I think we’ve forgotten how two-year-olds will do that and it’s really good; a way for them to learn and develop necessary skills. The hard part is being patient. One such trying moment is when she’s getting in and out of the car. On phase I, climbing in the car, she wants to do it herself and then gets distracted on phase II: climbing in the carseat. At this point she often sees that we want her to hurry and then proceeds to grin mischievously and take even longer. For a cute little two-year-old, Aliya can be a real punk sometimes. When I can take a breath (and a minute), I really love how bright and strong she is and how she likes to show us.
It’s not just getting in and out of the car, either. It’s talking, climbing, eating, getting dressed, getting undressed, brushing her teeth, etc.; pretty much everything. Luckily she hasn’t quite reached the phase where she gets really mad and frustrated when she can’t do something or we don’t understand exactly what she says. Maybe she’ll skip over that (fingers crossed).
Maia too, is really developing at lightening speed. She’s able to power through things that used to frustrate her (and us). I can tell she still struggles with things—like how her clothes feel or if something she’s playing with isn’t doing what she wants it to—but where she used to break down and scream and cry, now she gets mildly upset and settles with a frustrated “okay” and moves on. She still has those times when she loses it over something, but they are getting much less. Along the same lines she’s enjoying school more every time she goes and has pretty much gotten over being upset at drop-off. In fact she’s missed a couple days lately and is noticeably disappointed. I love hearing her talk about her friends at school and how she navigates playing with them and not playing with them. I think she really likes to play alone at times and she doesn’t seem to have trouble navigating that. Related to all this, we had our first evaluation of Maia with an occupational therapist that thinks she may benefit from a few sessions so she can overcome some of sensitive sensory things like how clothes/shoes fit, getting messy, and general coping skills. It’s going to be really good for us too to learn more about it and learn what we can do to support her.
And what would a post on self-will be without an entry in the seven-year-old category. Yes, our gentle giant and ray of sunshine, Ms. Keana, is in the throws of it too. She is absolutely brilliant in all ways, and I think that can make it especially difficult with her. She does not want to hear anything that goes against her and often labels any criticism as “mean” or “teasing.” It plays out in interesting power struggles too, like cutting her own food. She broke down in tears on Saturday when I refused to cut her pancakes. She sobbed that I wasn’t being fair because I cut Maia’s and Aliya’s and refused to do it herself. I’m not always calm and gentle when it gets to this level, but this time I did well to just encourage her then ignore it. Sarah eventually stepped in and suggested using a knife and I think that little bit of support helped. It’s hard because I think she’s struggling with growing up in general and she really knows that she’s moving beyond little kidness and into another realm. Part of her is really excited about that and embraces it, and the other part of is getting dragged kicking and screaming, sometimes literally. It’s especially tough for me to cope with all this because I’m so headstrong and opinionated too. But today I came to a realization and proposed that I ask her permission to give her my two cents before giving her feedback on whatever she’s working with. That seemed to make her happy. Of course, I’ll still have to balance telling her things simply because she needs to know it&mdas;whether she wants to hear it or not—and respecting her need to figure things out on her own. It’s just amazing the “flash-forwards” to teenage years we’ve already been witnessing, especially with Keana.
The bottom line to all this is that we have very intelligent, intuitive, funny little girls who are all very strong. It’s been important for us to take one moment at a time and cut our losses at the end of the day, and we agree that we want to nurture these great qualities and let them take their natural course while still maintaining some semblance of order around here.