I went to pick R up at school (school? School? Am I really one of those moms who calls it SCHOOL when it’s really just glorified day care with music classes once a week and ‘class pictures’ every quarter?) yesterday, and she was out on the playground. I found her at a picnic table with some other (older) girls (they were probably three but they looked about seven to me).
As I approached, I heard the words, “No R! Stop!” first from one girl, then the other three chimed in as well. R was sitting on top of the picnic table, totally inappropriate and wrong of her (but she’s only two!). But in that moment, memories of my own childhood came rushing back.
I was a shy child, slow to make friends. You would never find me sitting on top of a picnic table trying to take over something others, especially older girls, were doing. But you would find me being bossed around, being made fun of, being generally used as a doormat by my playmates.
I do not want that for R. But I also do not want her to be the bosser, the bully, the child no one likes because she attempts to run every activity from tether ball (do kids even play that any more?) to tea parties. I worry that my own insecurities, both as a parent and as a person, will somehow taint R. Rationally, I know that they will, and I shouldn’t let it bother me because it happens to every kid. Just like I inherited my pear-shaped figure and love of Diet Coke from my mother, so will R likely get my bad skin and brownie cravings.
I know I can’t shield her from being who she is going to be. I have to let her make her own way in the world. I can’t protect her or, in all cases, prevent her from making the same mistakes I did. I just remember how painful being a child, an adolescent a teenager and even a young twenty-something was for me. And I illogically want to protect her from that.