little girl; big girl
Yesterday when we got home from the store, I took the girls in – Clare was carried since she was tired and crabby – and then I came back out to get our things. I was surprised to hear the screen door bang again and my 5 year old skip out and ask, “Can I carry anything in for you?”
This may not sound headline-worthy, but it is. This is my 5 year old! Completely self-absorbed, world-revolves-around-me 5 year old! Don’t get me wrong. She is a sweet child; a reflective little girl who, when it is convenient for her, will show compassion. But she isn’t one to volunteer. I have to remind her everyday to bring in her coat/shoes/bag/etc when she gets out of the van and frequently she responds dramatically, “Mom! Uh, I don’t have any hands for that!! I have to carry my baby!”
But yesterday was different. And it wasn’t just at that moment. It was all day long. She played the part of the big sister, helping and encouraging Clare when she could, following directions within a reasonable amount of time, and being sensitive to the world around her.
It was weird.
Sophie has had her share of rough days over the past several weeks. My analysis is that the upcoming transition into kindergarten – an issue people seem to be bringing up ALL the time with her – is looming over her with all its excitement and intimidation. She enjoys being a ‘big girl’, but is afraid to leave the safe role she is familiar with of ‘little girl.’ And frankly, I want her to be a little girl as long as she can.
But I also want her to learn some responsibility, and the time is now. If it doesn’t really start now, giving her more I mean, then I will be missing a crucial window and I’ll end up with a bratty 11 year old and we’ll be kicking ourselves. It became apparent to me a couple months ago – that I had to start making her do some things for herself. Maybe that’s when her moodiness really escalated.
One day I was in the kitchen and she was lying on the couch watching TV and she called out with expectation, “PRETZELS!” This had become pretty frequent, I guess, but I thought to myself – Excuse me? Do I usually ‘obey’ this command? “If you want something Sophia, you can come in here, ask me politely, and I’ll give them to you.” She was not impressed with my new approach. Since then she has been expected to do all sorts of things including putting her dirty dishes up, picking up her clothes, putting them away!, getting her own juice, and cleaning her room. Not to mention using complete and polite sentences instead of barking out phrases and commands. I don’t know what was happening before, but it’s been somewhat of a shock to the system I guess.
Yesterday when she willingly offered her help – politely and cheerfully – it was somewhat of a shock to my system. It isn’t the first time she’s been polite; she is starting to figure out what is expected of her. But this is pretty measurable evidence that she is “getting it.” I’m not saying she’s been reformed. I’m not saying today will be anything like yesterday. But I’m feeling like we’ve made a bit of progress. And as much as I want my little girl to stay little, I’m proud of the big girl she’s becoming. ~sniff~