Have you read this article on Hands Free Mama that made it onto the Huffington Post and is making rounds on the Internet? The author tells the story of how one day, she stopped telling her daughter to hurry up.
This article inspired plenty of parents to allow their stop-and-smell-the-roses children to do just that: to stop and smell the roses. And yes, if we listen to ourselves, we really do say: “hurry up” and we say it a lot.
But you see, just as the author says she was blessed with a stop-and-smell the roses daughter, I am equally blessed with a girl who runs instead of walking, who has a thousand ideas per second and who wants the world and wants it now. In fact, just as the author is the type A parent with a stop-and-smell the roses child, I am the stop-and-smell the roses mom with a type A child.
I say “hurry up” sometimes, but I say: “slow down” even more. And just as the author hates herself for telling her daughter to hurry up, I hate to tell my daughter to slow down.
After all, isn’t telling a child who is so quick, so fast on her feet, so gracious to slow down equally bad? Is it not requesting of the child to adapt to our lives rather than adapting to the child’s? Is it not restraining her freedom?
There is beauty in speed, just look at running animals. Or, look at running children. Look at runners and sportspeople and see how effortlessly they move. And there is beauty having dreams bigger than yourself. To want everything and want it now. We wouldn’t have gone to the moon if we didn’t think like that. We wouldn’t have tried to make this world a better place if we didn’t dream big.
My daughter’s mind is a quick as her body. She has been asking me to teach her how to read and write since she was 2 years old. I was criticized for starting too early. But it wasn’t me. It was her. Coming from a family of book lovers and highly intelligent people, it doesn’t surprise me at all.
What should I have done instead? Told her she’s too little for this stuff? Hide all the books in a closet and even forbid talking about them? I was, and still am not pushing her. I don’t expect her to be perfect, or the best or the fastest. I just want her to be her own awesome self. In fact, I had my doubts about starting her writing letters so early. But over and over again, she was asking: “What’s this?” And soon she was able to recognize all the letters. So far, my mind can definitely keep up with her.
My body is another matter. I wish I was fast, like her. But it is in fact easier to slow down than it is to speed up. You can slow down to your child’s level. But you can’t always speed up.
I am by nature a slow person. I need to do things slowly, on my own pace, or I become overwhelmed. And here I am, with a child who is as fast as lightening. Who is out of the door before I can even get up and start dressing myself. Who changes activities quickly and frequently.
When we’re out for a walk, I sometimes need to run after her. I need to tell her that she is too fast and I am afraid she will run into something, or dart out onto a busy street.
But I do my best to keep up with her. To give her space to run and shout and jump and tumble in a safe manner. I don’t want to be the mom who says “no” all the time. I want to be the mom who says “yes”. I want to be the mom who can keep up with her child so that they can play and have fun, and do it for a long, long time. Preferably forever.
I am thinking about ways to get fit. About ways to cram some workout into my schedule of children, blogging, chores and me-time (no it won’t be used for work-out!). Always thinking about ways that I can be a good mom to my amazing, fast-as-lightening daughter.
I know I will not always be able to catch up with her. But I hope that she will come back to tell me what she has experienced. And if I manage to keep up, I hope that she will take my hand and show me what she sees.