I'm learning more and more that with a four year old, you have to allow them their freedom. I suppose that goes along with my post last week about my independent child. But even more than that, it is about letting them forge their own paths in all areas of their life. This is hard for me because, well, I'm a touch on the controlling side. And like most mamas, I'm fiercely protective of my babes. It is hard to watch your child being left out of a play date, the tears forming but not falling. Or seeing them struggle to read a word that you could easily spout out loud for them, but you dare not because they want to do it on their own. Or watching them as they try for the fifth time to get their shoes on the right feet, but never once reaching over to do it yourself. I have to stand back and let it all happen. So long as no one is physically in harms way, I have to let Jackson make the choices and decisions he makes on his own -- even if I know they are not in his best interest. And I also can't jump in and force other children to play with him or include him. I can't, at the same time, force him to play with someone he doesn't want to play with. It goes both ways. And I know that these decisions are going to become more and more trying as time goes by. I dread the day he asks to walk to a friend's house alone. Or he learns to drive. Or he decides that going to Europe for a year of backpacking sounds like a swell idea (seriously Mom, how in the world did you let me go so far away without trying to talk me out of it?!?).
The bigger decisions are coming, and I'm not sure how Shawn and I are going to handle them. Because even though it has been a long, long time since we were considered "youth," its not so long ago that I don't remember all the choices and decision I made as I was growing up. And how I know I struggled with things that surely my parents wanted to jump in the middle of and "fix"...but they didn't. I hope I can follow this same sage patten. I hope, I hope, I hope. Yes, I know he is only four, and not even close to five yet, but the path is set and I know that he is going to be pushing boundaries and making up his own mind (he already does), and I have to let him do that. I just have to keep my controlling side in check. That's the hard part of watching it all from the sidelines.