My fourth grader came home from school with a special book from the library. It was a cookbook full of recipes for kids to do. She was so excited. She’d planned all day during her free reading time which recipe she’d do. And she wanted my help making a pie.
Well, actually, she wanted me to stand there and supervise her, while she made the apple pie. It was a new thing for me to experience. Standing on the sideline, watching her do something as adult as making pie, by herself. She followed the recipe; she mixed the ingredients. I peeled and cored the apples, but she cut them into slices. She placed them in the pie shell. She did ask me to help with crimping the edges, but then she placed the pie into the oven, which she had turned on already.
As I was working alongside her, I struck by how much she’d grown up recently. I have spent most of the last nine years feeding, clothing, and physically cleaning this child, and it was quite surprising to have her want something different from me. She has mastered taking care of her physical needs –bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene. Now I don’t need to do those things – but I still need to check to make sure they get done. I also need to focus my attention on helping her develop other necessary skills, the next level of life skills – so to speak.
My daughter has graduated from basic life skills instruction, to personality skills instruction. My focus now needs to shift toward these more advanced lessons. I need to help her develop a strong work ethic. I need to teach her to want to do a good job on something – even if no one will be grading it or checking it. I need to teach her how to think of others more than her. And many other skills that will help her become a happy, productive adult.
And I need to find a balance between the independence she is starting to desire, and the amount of parental instruction she still needs. I don’t want her to grow up yet. I want her to stay a young girl for a few more years. While it is good for her to have more responsibilities, opportunities, and independence, she still needs me to be her mother. She is only nine, after all.
These are new waters for me. I feel like a first time Mom all over again. My head is full of, what are most likely, naïve thoughts about what will be best to do and how to do it. My end goal is still the same – allow my daughter to grow and mature into a capable, productive adult. I just pray to be able help her when needed, to let her do it herself when needed, and for the wisdom to know the difference.
How about you? Have you faced this transition with your own children? How did you manage it? What did you do? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.