How much of parenting is overcorrecting things gone wrong in your own psyche?
Yesterday Gertrude spent the better part of the afternoon walking down the street to ask if her friend could play, pausing with her finger poised to ring the doorbell as she wrestled with her shyness, and then walking back home.
She has asked her friend to play many times before, but she's always had her big sister at her side. This time, Matilda was at her dad's house. And Gertrude was bored, so I told her to go see if her friend could play.
I watched her from the kitchen window. I told myself, don't enable. Don't enable! She needed to do it herself to know she could do it herself.
This was me I saw, walking back and forth between the houses, or holding a phone receiver in one hand with my finger poised to dial a friend's number, my heart pounding and my confidence wavering. This was me, sitting on the porch step alone watching a group of kids across the street because I couldn't find the words to say, "Can I play?"
This was me staying home instead of going out. It was me with a single ticket to a play.
Back and forth Gertrude went, each time starting out from home with determination, armed with what I'd told her over and over: "Just say, 'Can Kylie play?'" Each time she dragged her feet back home without her friend and begged me to come with her.
I watched her out the window and argued with myself the entire time. She's still so little! And she's shy! No, she's old enough to walk over and ring the doorbell. She's perfectly able to communicate with other people. She knows what to do.
For the hundredth time, Gertrude marched down the sidewalk toward her friend's house. I heard a screen door screech open. And then I heard the little neighbor girl’s voice ring out, "Hi, Gertie!"
Even from my window in the kitchen, I could see the broad smile break out on Gert's face.
It was nothing compared to the smile on mine.