“All I did was go like this,” Claire’s cousin says, patting her backside gently.
“I know, ML. You didn’t do anything wrong," I say. "Claire’s just telling you what she needs."
I’m completely down with helping my two year old advocate for herself in the face of her nine-year-old cousin. It's part of learning how to negotiate relationships in life. But it’s hard not to laugh at the content of the conversation. I haven’t taken butts so seriously since I was a kid myself.
But, today, I’m in the role of referee and spirit guide. It’s about the fifth time in an hour that Claire’s raced up from the downstairs playroom to scream bloody murder about some indignity that one of the two of her much older cousins has done to her.
A few times, Claire couldn’t keep up with them and they were too rough for her two-year-old tastes. Other times, Claire was doing something typically toddler, and the cousins decided she was completely wrong and needed to be strong-armed into reconsidering the error of her ways.
Let’s call it a mini-generation gap.
I get it. It was much easier when Claire was a baby and social negotiations only happened between her and adults.
But navigating relationships is a lifelong occupation. Claire might as well get started learning social dynamics now. The reality is that I won't always be there to help her, so it's best that I teach her how to speak her mind when she needs to.
And she’s doing a great job so far, in my eyes. Today, the pupil did well, regards butts and such.
Plus, I’m happy to have a few moments sans child to converse with adults about things other than butts, while a couple of ersatz babysitters watch Claire. They might be a little rough around the edges, but, as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”
The bigger issue is that Claire's going to have a lifetime of being the much younger cousin. That’s her lot in life. There’s no way to predict the outcome – good or bad. Actually, it’s probably more likely that her relationship with her cousins will result in both good and bad.
Claire’s older cousins will probably push her in ways that will teach her resilience and make her stronger. Sometimes, they will just plain push her.
It’s hard to sit back, and wait to see whether Claire will blossom or falter in her relationships -- cousin or otherwise. But it’s part of that inevitable mom process of letting go. Just like I can’t predict what’s going to happen, I have a limited ability to control it too.
Hopefully, Claire will read this post one day when she’s older, and let me know how it all turned out. I anxiously await hearing about it. My fingers are crossed that her journey is filled with more blossoming than faltering. Only time will tell.
One thing's for sure...I will be here to celebrate the triumphs and to catch her when she falls.
I'll be here in case she needs to have more conversations about butts too.
Photo Source: Tups Wanders, Flickr This photo has been adapted and does not suggest that the licenser endorses me, its use or this blog. License
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