I lost my keys. It has been 3 weeks and I still haven’t found them. I’m starting to think that the reason they are missing is because my tiny Dinosaur has discovered the joys of rummaging through my purse and pulling everything out to examine it. I’m probably going to find my keys in a drawer or stuffed into the crevice of a bookcase somewhere.
We’ve also begun the never-ending quest for the missing shoe. One shoe is easy to find. Both shoes are impossible. I believe that all children’s shoes get sucked into a wormhole only to pile up in the corners of Borg ships in the Delta Quadrant. Perhaps Captain Janeway will remember to haul them back to Earth for those of us who are pulling their hair out because they’re late for daycare drop off.
Alice, like many one-year-olds, is ridiculously curious about everything. This means that stuff regularly goes missing and I regularly feel perturbed. When I get the tiniest bit frustrated by these moments (because who doesn’t now and again?) the unsolicited advice that I receive is that I can “fix” my daughter’s behavior. I just need to set boundaries by telling her “no” – as in, “No, you may not go through my purse.” “No, you need to keep out of the kitchen cupboards because Mommy wants to store the sharp objects on that bottom shelf.” “No, you need to stop touching all the expensive knick-knacks that Mommy insists on placing at the edges of end tables; just perfect for your tiny little hands to pull down and break.”
I’m all for setting boundaries where appropriate. I guess I just don’t see her curiosity as a problem that needs fixing. More than anything, I want Alice to keep being curious and to keep exploring. I’m the adult. I can make sure that I put the dangerous objects out of her reach, choosing instead to fill drawers and cabinets with soft and safe items for her to play with. I can take the time to install child safety locks to hide the things that I can’t relocate. I can place breakable knick-knacks up high, or I can pack them away until my daughter is older and more able to understand what to touch and not touch.
I don’t want to rob her of her normal and natural developments. What type of impression am I giving her if the word she most often hears is the word “no?” If she hears it too often, is she going to stop and listen to me when I actually mean “no?” Isn’t it my goal as a parent to foster her independence?
I don’t claim to have the answers. I just know that giving her options is working for us. Letting her do her thing feels like the right thing to do. I’m no longer fighting it. I’m working with her. Alice is a tiny person with her own thoughts and feelings and as long as I keep treating her as an individual, we find our balance. I still enforce the mom-law when I have to, but I find that if I go with the flow, I really don’t have to put my foot down as often as I used to.
So I don’t mind when Alice plays with my purse. She likes to put her toys in there. She likes to pull my pens and lipstick out of the pockets. She laughs as she strews everything around the living room and looks up at me with a little triumphant smirk. I don’t even mind having to pick everything up; putting it all back in it’s proper spot only for my daughter to pull everything out again in an hour or two. Either way, I get some writing or drawing done and my daughter gets some exploring accomplished. I just remember to hang my new set of keys safely up on the hook by the door where she can’t get them. Yet.