Friday, September 23, 2011

Authentic at 7 Years Old

My daughter Anna is a home-body. She doesn't ask to attend activities, visit friends or even to go to the playground. Every week I ask her if she'd like to go with her dad to the grocery store or swimming or to visit Granny and every week she refuses.  In the winter, she won't even go outside to play. Although she spent all last winter talking about wanting to learn how to skate, she went to the arena just once, in spite of it being offered to her twice a week..

Sometimes I let myself get really stressed about her refusal to leave the house. I sometimes believe that either there is something wrong with her or wrong with the way I am relating to her or wrong with me. I pressure her to go out and do things: grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, swimming, skating, whatever. She refuses and I get angry.

I have had to really spend some time reflecting on what was going wrong with my attitude.  How can a 7-year-old spend so much time at home?  Shouldn't she be doing activities? 

But Anna does not like new things. She does not like equipment (eg. skates). She does not like meeting new people and she especially does not respond favourably to a total stranger who is trying to teach her something. She likes to stay home. She likes her grandparents and her cousins. She likes the playground behind our neighbourhood school and she likes the convenience store behind our house. She tolerates the Science Centre and the Zoo. New places, people and activities are not a priority for her. It's not just that she's cautious in her approach to something new. She rejects even the idea of trying something new that I suggest. Not into it. At all.

When my children were infants I was confident enough in my mothering that I didn't care how many hours other babies slept at night or how much weight they were gaining or how early they walked. I didn't compare them to other people's babies.  So probably, I shouldn't compare my 7-year-old to other people's 7-year-olds.

I need to accept that it's not just that my child is normal just the way she is, she is actually better than normal because she is living her life authentically. She is just the way she is and it makes her perfectly happy. I could pressure her to try new activities, but then she would be doing it to please me, rather than being authentic. She knows what she can handle, and I have to trust her to tell me when she's ready to try something different.

As I trust her in her authenticity, maybe I'll be able to fully discover my authentic self, too.

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