Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dear Tessa: Listening to No

Dear Tessa,

Last weekend, you told me no-- no less than 100 times. When I tried to comb your hair. When I tried to kiss your cheek. When I tried to change you into a diaper so that you wouldn't wet the bed during a nap. When I tried to make you lay down for that said nap. When I tried to make you sit down to eat the toast you asked for --You get the point.

What I struggled with is doing what I know is best for you (the food, the nap, the curl detangling) and honoring your right to say no. I want you to grow up to be a woman who feels confident in what she knows is best for herself, but how can I do that when I am trying to overpower you to do what I think is best? I am not sure how well I did this weekend in honoring your wishes. Even as you jumble up your words and are frustrated by my inability to understand, I hope you know that I hear you.

My hope for you is that as you grow older, and even as I push my own advice onto you, I will hear you. I will listen.  I will ask questions to deepen my understanding of who you know yourself to be.

As you sat in the tub, asking me for, "Ten more minutes!" I had only offered two, but you knew best. You sang to your bath toys, "Along comes Mr. Alligator quiet as can be... SNAP! That monkey right outta that tree!" Finally you were ready, when you pulled out the drain stopper. Wrinkled, cold and scared of the sound, you called for my help.  I wrapped you up into the towel like a caterpillar in its cocoon and called you my little butterfly. You nestled your wet curls into my neck and perched yourself into my arms.

You knew when you were ready. I'll hold onto this moment as you grow older and the risks, decisions, and possibilities of mistakes become bigger. We all do things in our own time, even when you're two years old. I promise to be patient with your requests, knowing that whether it takes you two minutes or ten, two years of twenty, you'll figure it out just like the rest of us.

Thank you for being my favorite (and cutest) teacher.