10 Things for Your Survival Kit: A Letter to My Toddler

 

Piglet at the beach

Dear Piglet,

You are Two. There is a term for this age, the “Terrible Two’s”.

Please don’t be shocked at the name. It’s easy to be misunderstood. You’re investigating new frontiers. Charting new territory. And as an explorer, you’ll need 10 things for your journey.

1. Me!  My consistent, emotional and physical presence means so much to you. You don’t just want quality time, you crave quantity time. You’re the sweetest and most cooperative when I’m attentive and when you get lots of one-on-one play/reading time with me. An iPad would never match up.

2. Opportunities for independence.   You want to do things. By yourself. This develops your skills and helps you feel good about you. Today you had a big slice of pizza on your plate and you didn’t want me to cut it up for you. It was pretty goey and messy, but food never tasted better coming from your own fingers.

3. Help.  Sometimes you get upset when I try to help you. I know it seems I’m trying to get in your way. Remember the stew in the hot dish? You got near it and the steam made you gasp. I guess you’re feeling bad because you’re beginning to realise you can’t manage everything on your own. I know that feeling. I can’t manage everything on my own at my age either and sometimes I feel frustrated too. We live in a community and we need each other. Don’t go it alone. Let me help.

4. Understanding.   When I say “no”, try to understand. I know learning this takes time. I’ll be patient with you. You might throw a tantrum, fling something, or try to hit your siblings. When that happens, you don’t need to be publicly shamed. You might need some time away from the scene to calm down. I’ll be firm, and you’ll hate it. But you know you’ll always end up with a cuddle in my arms and you can dry your tears on my sleeve.

5. Emotion management.   You’re not the worst kid in the world just because you have strong emotions. You simply need to learn how to acknowledge negative feelings and express them appropriately. That’s a process. I hope you’ll learn by watching me. I’ll be asking you, “What else could you have done instead of yelling?” Most of the time, you won’t know. That’s alright, I have some suggestions. You can learn to say things like, “I’m sad because …”

6. Laughter.  Sometimes I need to lighten up, see the funny. You will get into the fridge while my back is turned and ask me “Wha dat?” I could get mad because you left teethmarks on a few apples, or I could choose to be glad because this is a chance for me to tell you that that bottle holds the vanilla flavour I use to bake cakes.

7. Acceptance.   You change so quickly. The moment I think I’ve got your routine down to pat, developmental changes necessitate adjustment. In time, you’ll make more evident choices on what kind of person you want to be. I’ll accept you for the organic, dynamic, little person you are. You didn’t arrive neatly packed. I’ll show you I love you for who you are, not for who I hope you’ll be. Don’t ever grow up thinking you don’t measure up.

8. Encouragement.  I need to spot you doing what is good and right, thoughtful and considerate, more often than what you do wrong. You need me to highlight it. “Good job!” “You were so generous with your brother!” When you do something wrong, you’ll receive discipline, but you’ll also hear me say, “I know you can do better than this.”

9. Remember who you are.   Growing up, you’ll receive many false messages about your identity. You’ll be told your worth is based upon your cuteness, your charm, your academic record, your ability to make money. These are lies. You are inherently of value. You’re special simply because you’re human, because you’re made in the image of your Creator. Believe in those lies and you may turn out brilliant to the world, but you’ll be broken.

10. A role model.   I’m not perfect. Yet, if I don’t deal with my bad habits or mistakes, these will impact you directly. You’re watching how I treat others. How I relate to your Papa. Am I kind? Gracious? Respectful? Self-controlled when I’m angry? You’re learning values not from a textbook but from the open book of my life.

It’s a long and winding road, and we might feel like giving up sometimes. But we’ve got to get through it, Piglet. Let’s travel, together.

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

 

This post was originally published on 23 September 2013 at Makchic

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