This morning as I was making my daughter’s hair before taking her to school, I slipped a little bow onto the side of her head as I always do…. Something I started doing because I made the mistake of getting her bangs which ALWAYS hang out in her eyes. The bow on the side of her head looks cute and also holds her bloody unruly bangs in place too. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and turned around to start daughter #2’s hair, when #1 decided to mess with my fragile mommy head.
“Mommy, can I wear my bow on the back of my hair, like my friend Jane?”
GASP. This cannot be happening. Not yet. She’s only 4 years old!!!!
The teacher inside me, the 21st century helicopter parent inside me wanted to have an in-depth discussion with her right there and then about how unique she is and how her individuality is something to be proud of. We don’t have to be exactly like our friends, we can be ourselves and others will come to respect it and love it.
But, the running desperately late mom of three littles convinced me that she’s just a little baby, it doesn’t mean anything yet, and I can’t afford the tardy to school fee.
“You like how Jane wears her bows?” I asked.
“Okay. Sure. You can wear it in the back. Sometimes we can wear it our way, and sometimes we can try new things.”
She nodded with a big smile.
Crisis averted. Or was it?
I thought about this the entire car ride to school. The over-reactive mom in me started unraveling pretty quick. I’m just not ready for adolescent-like issues to be presenting themselves in my toddler’s life. Today she wants to wear her bow to be like Jane. Tomorrow she may want to rebel against her parents just like Jane. The next year she may want to experiment with drugs just like Jane.
Did moving my daughter’s hair bow mean I had just lost my daughter?
Nope. Time to reel it in and rewind.
Every girl goes through a rough period in her early adolescence where she struggles with her emotions, insecurities, body image, etc. as she navigates raging new hormones and that tender time of life known as pre-adolescence. I obviously don’t want my daughters to be the kind who deal with this tough age by doing everything exactly like their peers. Because sometimes kids choose role models that aren’t necessarily the best for them. But this challenging period is inevitable and at that time I will not be able to empower them as effectively as I can do now.
Toddlers idolize their parents. They want to spend time with them. They want to do everything with them, to talk to them, to show them every time have hiccups, hold a crayon correctly, every ant they find on the sidewalk, to alert them every time their sibling is looking at them, etc. They want to absorb their time with you.
Think about middle schoolers. How much are they talking to and spending time with their parents? Definitely not as much. That’s an age where they want to figure things out on their own. You’ve missed the bus to teach them.
The instruction period, the training for positive self-image for holding strong to your values – it all starts NOW.
Even though one hair bow position isn’t the end of the world right now, it will be in a few years. So think ahead and start building your relationship with your sons and daughters now. A relationship of love, trust, understanding and OPEN COMMUNICATION. Talk to your littles, people. They don’t make a whole lotta sense all the time, and they do tend to drive you insane a majority of the day. I know better than any of you can realize, that after everything you do to cater to them all day, sometimes you don’t want to add heart to hearts to the list. Sometimes you just want to tune them out and take a break.
So take it. Take that break every now and then and then get on top of your job.
If you don’t sit down and talk to them now, about the littles and most insignificant of things, they definitely will not be sitting down and talking to you later….about the biggest and most crucial of matters.
The key to being a fabulous mom, is remembering that we aren’t just getting them through the day to day – we’re raising them to be successful, happy, confident, and amazing human beings in a big bad world. Be who they need today, and be who they will rely on in the future.