Lately, the Little One has made a new friend. I knew he would come. It was just a matter of time. Ah yes, and with the passing of the first year mark, in He came. Independence. He has walked through our doors and taken a seat at the table. And yet, this newfound friend is a tricky one. In fact, Independence is not all that independent. Does he enable far more motion, exploration and creativity? Oh yes. Does he allow her engage more directly with the world around her? to take risks and joy with the freedom he brings? For sure.
At fifteen months, her need for me looks very different than what it once was, say, at one month…or five months…or even twelve months. As she’s grown, so has her ability to do things by herself. It is no longer necessary for me to be her sole source of nutrition, motion or otherwise. If she needs to eat, she can consume real food. If she needs to get somewhere or get something, she now can take herself there. And quickly!
And so, enter said friend, Independence. An expected and welcomed friend. But did he truly enter our home by his lonesome, as one would assume Independence would. Nope. Not even close. Oh trust me, he brought a companion.
See example below:
Independence helped (and still helps) LO discover her ever growing list of abilities.
Like climbing up on her ottoman all by herself.
It is a sight to behold. She hurls one leg up so that her foot grazes her chin, about the same height as the ottoman (sidenote: the flexibility of children at this age is freakish). From this point, she curls her toes and latches them onto the center of said ottoman. She then quickly throws her arms up with palms opened and ready (first the right one, with the left following quickly behind) and aggressively grabs the center of the footrest’s brown fabric, gripping with all her might. Her left leg swiftly flings itself up and in one dramatic motion, she flips her body frontward and voila, she is seated squarely atop her ottoman.
Cue enormous smile.
Pride beams out of her seven toothed grin.
Its a joy to witness.
Here comes the catch.
She doesn’t know how to get down.
While she has worked so hard to figure out how to leverage herself atop said ottoman, the sweet child has no idea how to get herself safely down. And therein lies the problem.
While she finds great satisfaction in sitting all by herself, she does eventually (a few seconds later) want to get down (mostly just to do it all over again).
Its amazing to me that she *knows* enough to *know* she *doesn’t know* how to do it. Sometimes she’ll test the waters—droop her body down a little bit to see if she can just hop off…but very quickly realizes she can’t actually do it yet. And needs help. And asks for it. Within seconds, it seems, of realizing it.
Cue squahining (oh I’m sorry- you don’t have a 15 month old? Then let me explain. Squahining: v. to squawk while simultaneously whining. Usage: LO spends much of her day squahining when she finds herself in situations (i.e. every other minute or so) where she needs a little help.)
Its amazing and a little bit funny (in the Alanis Morisette’s “Isn’t it ironic?” way) to me that her little brain did not figure out these two skills (the ability to ascend and the ability to descend) at the same time. It seems logical that they would come develop hand-in-hand.
But, alas, they did not.
Instead, in addition to her newfound ability to climb much like a monkey, LO has developed a skill that I am even more grateful for- one that will serve her far better than masterful climbing- the ability to ask for help. And to ask for it as soon as she realizes she needs it.
You see, when Independence walked in our door, I was so grateful he brought a friend. He brought Dependence. And while Dependence is certainly no stranger to our home- LO has long been dependent (hello womb-world)- it is only now that she seems more and more able to understand, consciously, her need for help and ask for it.
While LO’s ability to ascend did not come with a matching ability to descend, it has come with a greater ability to express herself. As her physical prowess has expanded, so has her mastery of language.
I am floored, and eternally grateful, for this. As she gains more and more physical prowess, she is also more and more able to recognize, in a conscious and real way, her need for help- and *ask* for it.
And not just *ask* for it. She asks for help *as soon* as she realizes she needs it.
Unhesitatingly. Without shame.
What a gift.
To see Independence as it truly is- inextricably…brazenly…tied to Dependence.
May she carry that skill with her always.
For isn’t it only in unashamedly recognizing our dependence that we can truly embrace and enjoy the *freedom* that comes with our independence?