Thursday, May 20, 2010

Let Them Be Little

It was a beautiful day outside today, so the boys and biked to a local nature trail about a mile from the house. We had a great time in the woods, but the ride home took FOREVER -- mostly because Boy #4 was in no particular hurry and kept weaving his bike from side to side. I was getting frustrated. I was hungry, tired and wanted to get home.

Then I remembered this post. Almost exactly one year ago, my little boy didn't even know how to use the brakes on his training wheel bike. Now, I'm getting frustrated with him because he doesn't bike quickly enough? Twelve months ago, he couldn't safely navigate a hill. Today, he biked over a mile there, hiked the 1.5 mile trail and biked back. And I, the supposed grown-up in this scenario, was upset because I was hungry.

The incident got me thinking about our expectations for our kids. No sooner do they master one skill -- riding a bike, for instance -- and we expect them to master the next (riding efficiently!). Same thing in school: One day, we tell ourselves we'd be happy if the kid could just read. The next, we're worried that he's not reading enough. Growth, though, isn't linear and predictable. It's not a straight-up diagonal line on a line graph; a child's natural growth curve includes lots of jumps, starts and stalls. There are moments of incredible leaps -- and months of seemingly no activity whatsoever. There are times of regression. All in all, though, our little ones are growing at an amazing pace and need our support, no matter where they're at.


  1. My mom reminded me that I need to allow my youngest to be young. She's always looking at her oldest sisters wanting what they want rather than what she wants. It helped me to slow down and let her be.

  2. I think this applies well to parents, too. The quality of our parenting grows in spurts and fits, stagnates, regresses, twirls, does somersaults. And I never, ever feel like I'm doing enough.

  3. Excellent point, Ron! So you, too, struggle with parental guilt?

    Jan -- It's hard to let the youngest be little! My 4-yr-old recently watched Avatar with us -- and you can bet I never would let my oldest watch Avatar (if it had been invented) when he was 4. I think that's why I'm so tickled every time the little one asks to watch Nick Jr., b/c finally, he's getting a chance to be 4!