Just after dinner our four-year-old daughter walked into the living room where I was sitting, talking with my sister-in-law.
On Friday nights we eat at my mother’s house with as many aunts, uncles, and cousins who are around. It’s a wonderful weekly tradition and a loud one. There’s a lot going on.
Our kids are the youngest of the lot so they do a bit of showing out, as it were.
They get silly and wild, they demand attention for their stories and dances, and they run around with heightened energy and heightened emotions.
It’s nighttime too. Potential for eight, six, four, and three-year-old breakdowns is relatively high.
We manage, and I have to admit that they’re pretty cute even in heightened states, so we all enjoy the show to some extend. We feel fortunate, even through intermittent frustration.
A highlight for me is when one of the kids needs a break, a problem-solving partner, or a consolatory hug, and they come running to me for it. It’s good to be the go-to break spot, problem solving hugger.
Yesterday, something changed.
Did I mention she’s four?
This time, she ambled into the room as usual, shoulders slumped, arms dangling, lip curled and pouty, eyes upturned and half exposed just under her signature “one of my brothers wronged me” partly closed lids, and brow furrowed. I was ready for a full, fall into me with all thirty pounds hug and some extended comforting.
I opened my arms and offered my best sympathetic look as I queried, “What’s wrong baby?”
As she walked directly past me into the arms of her aunt, shifting her pout to a scowl for just a moment, she lifted her eyes and turned her head just enough to growl, “Something not of your business!” Harrumph.
Ouch, something not of my business.
Ladies and gentlemen, guess what, there are things in the minds, the hearts, and the lives of our children that are not of our business, even in the minds, the hearts, and the lives of our four-year-old daughters.
Also, I suspect the shift over time won’t be that more of it is some of my business.
The kid is teaching me that in order to be trusted in the ways I hope to be as she navigates the trials and tribulations of growing up (which evidently happens really quickly), I’ve got to respect and even appreciate that she’s an individual, categorically separate from me, with her own hopes, dreams, and feelings that I might actually not understand, who will sometimes need me to listen and sometimes need me to back off.
I’m genuinely working to be able to do both with grace.
I sure do love her.
In it together for the kids.
Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.