“I’ll never be able to ride a bike! I’m just no good at anything!” your child says as he throws down the bike and drops to the ground in a sulk.
In early September, my first grader sat on her bed thumbing through a picture book that was way above her reading level. “I’m reading this book all by myself, mommy! I’m reading the pictures. My teacher says that’s one way to read a book.”
Whether it’s a cancelled play date, an ice cream cone that falls on the ground, a scoreless soccer game, or a broken promise due to unforeseen circumstances, life is full of disappointments of varying sizes. While the gut instinct of the caring parent might very well be to sweep the disappointment out of the way by offering a quick solution, parents can’t always protect their kids from letdowns. And that’s okay.
“I just wish she had the confidence to speak up.”
This is a phrase I hear over and over again from parents of young girls – and I remember having the same thought when my own daughter was in kindergarten.
Observing a group of mixed-age early elementary school students at play during recess, I quickly noted a pattern of behavior. The oldest kids took charge with confidence, telling the others what to play and where to line up to form teams. Captains rotated between the same four kids and the same two kids were chosen last each time. The other kids didn’t question this; they followed the script.
I remember the first bite. My kids had just entered a blissful stage where they could play together for stretches of time. I was quietly congratulating myself when I heard a 2-year-old’s howl of anger followed by a 4-year-old’s shriek of pain. The older sister ran over to show off the fresh teeth marks on her arm.