When deciding to have kids, I always thought about the adorable and squishy little newborns they would be. I would day dream about their first coos, their first steps, their belly laughs, and those one on one midnight feedings we would have together. I did not focus on the future years. I knew children would grow to be an adult some day, but I never thought about the in between.
My first daughter was what I liked to call a “golden child”. She rarely cried unless she needed a diaper change or needed to be fed. She slept through the night at one month old, and never gave me a big problem as a baby. As she grew into toddler-hood I started noticing things that really made her unique. She would point at a sunset and say, “Momma, isn’t that so beautiful?”. She was talking in sentences well before she was two. She learned incredibly fast. She was interested in the whole world surrounding her. She literally absorbed everything. She was my perfect angel.
It wasn’t until we were at a random family get-together and all of her cousins were excited to go down a snow hill that I noticed she wasn’t as thrilled as they were to try something she’s never tried before. She was scared. I could see the nervousness on her face. A family member attempted to get her to go down the hill with the other kids. She grabbed my leg, held it tight, and screamed at the top of her lungs, “No!”. I was shamefully embarrassed of my daughter for the first time ever. Why didn’t my child want to do something so fun when all of the other kids her age were having the time of their lives? I leaned down to her and whispered in her ear gently, “Honey, I will hold you tight and we can ride together. It’ll be so much fun.” Again, she screamed and tears came hysterically. We had all eyes on us, and I felt the pressure to make her go down that hill. I knew she would have fun, but I couldn’t help but to think: What is going on? Why is she so traumatized by something she has never tried before? I used to look so forward to this as a child. Who am I kidding? I looked forward to this even now as an adult. Why doesn’t my two year old? I tried over and over to get her to go down that hill. Each time I did she would grow even more upset. I left frustrated, embarrassed, confused, and speechless.
Over the years her hesitation to try new things most kids jump right into remains the same. She’s cautious. She protects herself in all ways possible; physically and emotionally. I have learned something so incredibly important from her. Not all kids are the same, and I should never expect anything less or more. I am no longer ashamed of the cautious person she is. I no longer become frustrated when she doesn’t want to do what I thought she would have fun doing. She’s taught me that having fun for her means sitting down doing puzzles, pushing herself to learn to read, coming up with crafts, playing dress-up, and being the most motherly five year old I know to her two younger sisters. Even though she opts out of doing more athletic activities eighty five percent of the time that I expected all kids loved, the smile she has on her face doing what she loves is breathtaking. It’s funny how things work. We expect to teach our children everything we know in life, and all of a sudden they’re unexpectedly teaching us.
Article written by Beth Anne Jackson