My four kids teach me so much about life.
Our youngest is every bit of two and a half, with a strong will to boot. Her favorite phrase for the past 6 months?
“Do it self!”
“I got it! Do. It. SELF!”
You get the drift- she needs to do everything on her own. With no help.
And that’s fine a lot of the time. I try to keep our schedule relaxed enough that I don’t need to rush her to get in and out of her carseat, which she does at a snail’s pace. She can put her shoes on on her own, wrong feet and all. Who cares? And she can take her time screwing the cap back onto the gallon of milk.
But she can’t pour herself full glass from that gallon of milk. I know. She’s tried. And it’s a lot to clean up!
I was struggling with how to get across to her that there are some things that she really can’t do “self” yet. They’re either dangerous -like crossing the highway by our house- or cause a huge sticky mess, life the aforementioned milk.
Any time I tried to explain this, though, it just caused me to have bad grammar (“No, you don’t got it self.”) and caused her to scream like no toddler has ever screamed before.
One day she was screaming about wanting to dump the entire container of yogurt into the blender all on her own for smoothies. And, for some reason, instead of getting frustrated and repeating, “You don’t got it!” to her, I simply said, “Together.”
“Let’s do it together.”
She calmed down, looked at me, and said, “Okay.”
And we did it together.
Along with her 4 year old brother. So, yes, there were three hands putting the yogurt into a small blender. Overkill? Maybe. But my little girl learned that sometimes “together” is better than “self”.
Isn’t that true of our adult lives too?
We rush around trying to get everything done by ourselves. Stressed, tired, and burned out. When, really, we could be spending life together. Helping our neighbors weed their garden, taking a walk with a friend who is grieving, giving our husband a lingering kiss goodbye instead of rushing out the door, or making a smoothie with two hands too many.
It’s amazing what happens when we slow down enough to do life together. It may take more time. It may even be more stressful at first. But it’s truly a beautiful experience.
My toddler still wants to “do it self”, and 75% of the time she’s able to. But when she’s not, when the task is too dangerous or difficult, all I have to say is “together”. Then she looks up at me and says, “Okay, Momma. Together.”
Most of the time.
But it’s a step in the right direction.