Monday, October 22, 2012

Figure it out, baby!

One day during our vacation, MJ, Allie and I were walking around the Santa Barbara downtown. It was a hot day and I was craving a smoothie. We were walking a while before we finally saw a juice/smoothie spot. I ordered a smoothie called "Raspberry" that had raspberry juice, a banana, strawberries, raspberry sherbet and  frozen yogurt  It was absolutely delicious! You know that feeling when you really crave something and finally get it and it tastes even better than you anticipated? That was it. I finished my huge portion of "Raspberry" and couldn't be happier being with my family in such a gorgeous place with such a delicious drink in my belly.

how can one not be happy looking up at this view?!

The next day when we were walking around, I wasn't so thirsty, but the memory of the smoothie the previous day made me go back to that place and order another "Raspberry". It was good. But it wasn't nearly as enjoyable as it was for for the first time. And I thought it made a perfect sense. I should've known that you can't just duplicate a great experience. And  for some reason it made me think of my mom. She is very wise. I thought how if I was walking around with her that second day and expressed an idea to get the same smoothie as I had had yesterday  she would've definitely known  that it wouldn't be the same, but she would've not stopped me from getting it. She would let me have it and let me learn the lesson. This was totally random,  but I just could picture that scene: me forcing that smoothie on myself and saying that it's not the same and my mom saying "Yes, it's usually not as good if you try to repeat the experience". This is how a parenting lesson occurred to me out of nowhere...or out of a smoothie, I should say.

I think this is going to be my parenting strategy with Allie.  I will let her try things on her own and let her figure out as much on her own as she can. As I thought of it, I realized that I have already been doing it, kind of.  I give her warnings, but I also give her the freedom to see the consequences and learn the lesson. If she wants to take a sip of MJ's freshly squeezed ginger juice, I warn her that it's going to be too spicy for her but let her taste it, so that she can see for herself and stop (or switch to super tiny sips, which luckily for her health she's been doing. So good for her!) If she wants to turn on the faucet with the cold water while taking a bath, I warn her that it's going to be too cold but let her turn the handle and feel the cold. She learns it's too cold and turns it off; next time she'll think more carefully before doing it. When she purposely spills her milk or throws her food on the floor, I warn her that she would be the one cleaning up the mess. Just the other day she threw all her grapes on the floor and I told her she can't leave the kitchen till she picks them all up and throws them away. She is not even 2 years old yet, but I know she understands. She kept trying to escape, but I calmly returned her back and kept asking to pick them up, because she was the one who made a mess. This "process" took about 5 minutes (but felt like an hour), she was trying to leave, she lay on the floor, she was doing her pretend-cry, but I just stayed calm and was telling her what needed to be done. Eventually she went straight to picking up her grapes and happily cleaned them all up. Things like that. I try to avoid saying "No, don't do it".  She is so little and so curious, why not let her? 

Now, of course, I am not going to let her see what happens if she puts a fork in the outlet, or what happens if she walks in the middle of a street with heavy car traffic. Dangerous things are dangerous things, certain activities are off limits. But if what she wants to try is harmless and most likely teaches her a lesson, I think it's good to allow it, even if it causes inconveniences, such as cleaning up.It teaches her independence,  nourishes her curiosity and develops her creativity in how to deal with things.

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