When my daughter was about three years old she was playing at her friend J’s house. J’s mom called me to come and pick up D, there had been an argument and there seemed to be no resolution. When I got there, it turned out that my daughter had eaten all the imaginary ice cream in the game and her friend was crying. I asked her if this was true, and she told me that it was. So I asked if they couldn’t make some more, and my daughter said, I am sorry, no we can’t. So she had to come home with me. No big deal, but the game was as it was and they had ran out of imaginary ice cream.
My D has always been very feisty and determined. When she couldn’t master walking with balance she spent a whole day practicing standing up and sitting down, essentially squatting for a whole day, determined to figure it out. And she did. When she was learning to write she would practice and practice to write her words, and when she is now learning a new piece on the piano it is with the same discipline and determination. Hours and hours of practice and perfecting. Doing the work.
And she has values, when she makes up her mind, she will double down and do what it takes for the narrative to work. So in hindsight, I am not surprised that she chose to go home after her friend didn’t want to play with her after she had eaten all the imaginary ice cream, that was the narrative of the game and she was ok with it.
There are a few things I love about this story. First, I think it’s refreshingly weird and wonderful that a three year old decides that they can’t make any more imaginary ice cream, from a grown up perspective it seems the supply would be endless. She was setting up boundaries within the game, and even theoretical immaterial things were finite. D always had a mindset of abundance, she isn’t afraid of running out so she doesn’t have to cling to things. That is an incredible strength to have.
When she was around one and started having tantrums I didn’t know what to do. So I asked my midwife Tekoa what to do. She said, you want her to be a feisty twenty five year old, so the trick is to mother her without killing the flame. Guiding her in her weirdness and feistiness so that she doesn’t hurt herself, but to encourage her to speak her mind and not kill her spirit. Her advice has been a guiding principle in my parenting since then. Encouraging their passion and nudge them to explore who they are and feeding their drive and personalities.
I am so proud of my kids when they speak up, and they do. They speak up to me. They speak up when there are things that are unjust. They speak up for the underdog. When we nurture our kids to feel safe talking to us about anything something really awesome happens. They do talk to us.
That day when I had to pick D up from her friend’s house for eating all the imaginary ice cream I was angry at her. I thought it was a little weird that she didn’t want to make more ice cream and keep playing, but I trusted that she knew what she was doing. You know how I talk about slowing down and resisting the urgency? This is a good example of that. I see now that the space allowed around my kids, by not pressuring them to lose battles that I don’t need to win they have confidence in themselves and feel safe to tell me and share with me the things they want to. It has definitely helped us during this strange time we are dealing with now with less social interaction with friends and a different pace. You know what? You can have that kind of deep and connected relationship with your kids too. Want me to show you? I have something for you. Let me know 🙂