Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A 4-year-old and 2-year-old [Almost]

Living in Minnesota, with such long winters, it is easy to see distinct differences in age development when it comes to outside play from summer to summer. No year is exactly the same. There's the stroller stage, the crawling/dirt-eating stage, the climbing stage, the riding-my-bike stage, the independent stage and so on.

We have the perfect house location and backyard to accommodate all those stages. We live on a corner which provides ample sidewalk space to ride one's bike/scooter within the agreed upon boundaries.  For backyard play we've got two things going for us: (a) it's completely fenced in and (b) my kitchen window faces every possible angle. I can prep for meals and supervise all at the same time.

At nearly two-years-old Lucy now pleads to put her shoes on as soon as she hears her big brother utter the word "outside." And this year I've obliged. She can play in the backyard by herself as long as the fence gates are tightly closed and I'm stationed at the kitchen counter.

But yesterday I took this picture and my heart wept for her for just a bit.

She's finally got the green light to join her big brother outside and what does he do?  Leaves the confines of the yard to join the big kids to do big-kid things.

She never complained once.  But she did stand there for quite some time.  Just watching.  I don't know what was going through her head.  I was never the younger sibling.  As the eldest I was always the one who got do things first.  I was never left behind but I'm sure I did a lot of the leaving behind without thinking twice.

I don't want to dampen William's spirit.  He's four and he should be able to embrace the small amount of independence I've given him.  He's never once broken an outside rule.  He stays within the boundaries I give him and he always comes as soon as I beckon.  I don't want to take away privileges that have been so well respected.

But at the same time I want him to have empathy for Lucy and her small-ness and her inability to have as much independence as he does.  How do I do that?  How do I keep things "fair"?  And how do I keep from always trying to keep things "fair" because I know they never will be?

Such is the internal debate of a mother with multiple children.  I better get used to it.

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