Thursday, September 04, 2008

Little Things

Kyra tied her shoes all by herself this morning. Both of them. And I wasn't even badgering her about it. Just told her to put her shoes on. She usually puts them on, tightens the laces, then waits for me to finish the job. "You're going to have to learn to do this on your own someday," I chide. She just sighs and rolls her eyes.

But not today.

Today she put her shoes on while I brushed her hair, making life difficult for me as her little body bobbed and weaved, little hands navigating shoes on little feet. I usually tell her to knock it off, to wait until I'm done brushing, that it's hard to hit a moving target. But today I didn't. Don't know why. It seemed like an eternity for her to get those shoes on, but I soon discovered why. She raised her head enough for me to see her imperfectly tied right shoe. "Is it tight enough for you?" I asked. She pulled on the shoe, testing it, then nodded. Then she went to work on the left one.

I watched her as she worked. Bunny ear, bunny ear, around the tree and through the hole. My critical instincts screamed at me...the bunny ears are too small...the ends are too long...she'll never have enough slack to go for the double knot...and I even reached out to give her a hand. Twice. But each time, for some unknown reason, I told my critical inner being to suck it and leave her alone. Instead, I chose to listen to that other, smaller, wiser voice that said, Let her do it herself. I wish I did that more often. Because the payoff was huge.

"Daddy, I tied both of my shoes! All by myself!"

Her face beamed with pride and amazement and wonder, which made me want to hug her and cuddle her and never let my baby girl go. Never let her go. But I have to, little by little. She needs to learn how to do things on her own, in her own way. That can be a tough parenting pill to swallow. I released her from my bear hug and she skipped through the door wearing shoes with the bunny ears just barely peeking through the double knots and the long ends of her shoelaces flapping freely in the breeze. Not how I would have done it. But that's OK.

Really. It's OK.

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