The Post in Which I Talk About My Independent 4-Year-Old and Encourage Child Labor ;-)
Emma is going through a serious independent stage right now! Heaven help me. Some of the things Ive heard her say lately:
I can do it all by myself! Please dont help me.
Im a big girl, mom NOT a baby.
I want to learn to cook, mom.
(Then later, Daddy, I made this beef all by myself!)
Im growing bigger, Im growing up high, high to the SKY!
Will I be taller soon, mommy?
When Im cooking or cleaning, shes right there wanting to do it with me. She tirelessly pulls one of our tall chairs into the kitchen to stand on every day and puts it back when shes done (the girl has developed some muscle doing this). She would love to make dinner herself and has been asking me lately if she can then shes crestfallen if I say I need to handle the hot stuff for her.
Ive gotten pretty good at distracting her with odd jobs, though like yesterday while making a Mexican dish I had her grate the cheese for me (after I had explained the risks of cutting herself if she isnt careful). She spent a good 15 minutes grating the cheese and had a whopping tablespoonful afterwards, but boy was she proud!
(I suspect the cheese shortage might partly have been due to her eating it as she went)
Going through this independent stage has been cool in some ways, too. Like when it comes to helping me with things she can actually help with, like fetching things for her brother. He is getting kind of spoiled by her, actually when he wants something he grabs her hand and drags her to his destination. She always guesses what he wants, too!
THEN there are the times when I find her in the kitchen on a chair getting snacks she isnt supposed to be getting into. She thinks that because she feels like a grown-up she should get the same privileges mommy and daddy have. Alas, not true. But also something she would appreciate if she were a big person for a day with big person responsibilities!
This Im a big girl attitude has been the perfect springboard for teaching Emma about working for privileges. I just recently traded another mom for a VReader with some games, and although I was excited about it I didnt want to just give it to Emma. I want her to learn that there are rewards for working hard, not that awesome things come to the door in boxes because shes the center of the universe. 😉
So I set her to work helping me, telling her that she would get money for a special toy whenever she finished her jobs (most of which entail her picking up her own messes). She really responded well! Usually I have to prod her a few times to finish a job, but with a potential reward in place she perked right up. Something like this really makes the gift more of a treasure theres something special about things you purchase yourself with your hard-earned money, isnt there? You treat it differently than you might gifts that others give you. Thats how Emma is with the VReader (and by the way I really like it!). She calls it her kids kindle. 🙂
Just when I start feeling sad over how fast my little girl is growing up, and how much she wants to grow up, Emma switches on me. Last night I asked her if she wanted to put herself to bed. She said, No! I asked, But arent you a big girl? Her response: Im not that big yet.