Yesterday my 3 year old took out a puzzle. It was probably for age 5, but he said with such confidence and assurance that he could do it. I sat next to him to lend him a hand and he told me to go away because he wants to do it all himself. I let him. I let my little baby struggle painstakingly to fit pieces together. And you know what? He did it. It shocked my socks off. Then I noticed something. As I praised him and told him that I can’t believe he managed to do it all by himself, that he tried so hard, that he did incredible work, I watched his body posture change. I noticed the spark of pride in his eyes, the shy victorious smile, his chest puffed out. The absolute stance of a warrior!
My eyes brimmed over with the recognition that I as mother had such tremendous power over his self-concept. That I could create or destroy his world. I thought back not too long ago to the disapproving look, a sharp word. The self-defeated pose. The shame he felt at doing wrong. I never realized my power. How can I not choose to build him up, to dress my little warrior?
I revel at the innocence of age, of unadulterated display of emotion on his face, before a mask has a chance to grow and cover up what he really feels. Before my child finds it unacceptable or become too self-conscious to express what he feels so nakedly on his faces.