Working Harder…Not Smarter

Toddlers can be trying sometimes, but they can also be hilarious. Usually when they’re not even trying to be.

One of my favorite (/least favorite) things is watching Lily do things on her own. We’re to the point where she can do quite a lot of minor things–putting on socks and shoes, dressing herself, undressing herself, zipping zippers, etc.

It’s exciting to watch her learn new skills and work toward independence.

But it’s also incredibly frustrating, because she’s a toddler, and they don’t exactly use logic very often.

For example, she was putting on her socks and boots. Now, socks are kind of a frustrating item for her, because they’ve gotta go over the toes and over the heel, and it takes a lot more skill and concentration than I ever realized in my 20+ years of putting on socks.

This particular time, though, Lily was struggling with a sock, getting it halfway up her foot, rotating, pulling, twisting, pulling.

And then Kinley reached for a boot.

Lily snatched the boot back, applying her attention once again to the rogue sock, finally managing to put it on.

She took the boot in her hands, pulling it up onto her toes, pulling too early and missing. She stood up, leveraging herself on her tiny chair as she wobbled on one foot. Rearranged the boot. Bent over to fix her sock. Cautiously lowered her foot into the boot. Got it.

Meanwhile, Kinley had started chewing on the second boot.

She snatched the boot.

“No help, mama! I’m gonna put on my boot!”

(“Okay, fine!” I surrender myself to the process.)

This continued for several minutes before the toddler was finally ready to go.

And this happens nearly every time.

It’s a game of frustration trying to reason with a toddler or asking her to let you help with the dang boot.

And it’s a game of frustration watch said toddler do things on her own.

But it’s also a point of pride for her. The grin on her face, the happy dance she does when she’s finally achieved her goal–no matter how long it took, no matter how many times she yelled at me not to help or stole things back from Kinley, no matter how many attempts it took–is priceless.

And, maybe I love to see her grow into an independent, little girl.

But, as any mother, I also sort of hate this marking of the passage of time. This clear sign that my baby is no longer a baby.

Why do we want them to stay young and sweet and innocent forever, but still relish the learning of the little details of their personalities as they grow?

Why is parenthood such a paradox–feelings and circumstances always at odd with themselves?

It’s the craziest job in the world, this.