I’d like to give up.
But I’d like to.
The past couple of months have been one long example of Maura’s budding need for independence, yet her inability to distinguish what’s dangerous or off-limits, and what’s not.
Like the time I walked into the kitchen to find her standing over the watermelon with the biggest knife she could find, ready to cut it. Because she’s into learning how to cut her own food. So yes, of course in her mind, she can easily transition from butter knife to butcher knife.
<sprouts grey hair instantly>
Or the time I came home from taking a teen somewhere, to find the eldest explaining to me how Maura decided to pour herself a glass of white wine. In a wine glass. Because she was into using the wine glasses, and hey, that’s what Mom puts in her wine glasses! The eldest saw her walk by with the full sparkling glass and on instinct, checked it out. Thank goodness. Maura was not impressed with his brotherly actions.
Part of me was a bit impressed she used the right glass. Another part of me was territorial – that is my wine kid! Yet another part had to laugh at this new irony in my life, that I can trust the teens with the liquor, but not the little girl.
All the wine has been moved.
As did all the beers, when she decided a few days later she wanted a hard lemonade that was in the fridge – again, while I was taking a sibling someplace, and again, caught by the eldest sibling, who again, took it from her.
She also thinks she can use the microwave. Luckily, she hasn’t figured out that she’s supposed to push buttons yet, and I can hear the clattering before she has time to push any buttons.
Then yesterday. Yesterday as she played outside with her dolls. Happy sounds of dolls on adventures. Her enjoying fresh air as I kept one eye and one ear on her. Our yard is pretty safe, my biggest worries have been if she decides to swing off a tree branch yet again, or trips on the steps down to the patio.
My mistake was going to the bathroom. No, I’ve never learned that lesson. I came out to a teen hosing down the grill because somehow Maura turned on the side burner and pine needles that had gotten caught under the lid (which was still closed) were smoldering.
<spots more grey hairs>
I can actually imagine what other people must be thinking, that somehow, I must not watch her enough. Or my house isn’t babyproofed enough. That I need to work harder to keep her safe.
I understand. I get that. I do try. But at this rate, to keep the girl completely safe, I’d have to contain her to one room of the house – which, let’s face it, would be a bit of imprisonment, and is frowned upon in these states.
I could just hover around her at all times, but then I’d turn into a news story, and people would talk about how I should have asked for help before snapping.
I could ask for help….and I do have help in the form of the other siblings, my husband, and friends. But we all have to use the toilet at some point. Or leave to buy groceries. Or take care of other people in the house. Or – if I may be so bold – take care of ourselves.
I could take her everywhere with me. But again, there’s that news story potential. “Local mom found sitting in wine aisle, rocking a bottle, as her special needs daughter sat next to her, eating a bag of chips.”
I could work very hard to make the house very Maura proof. We could all learn how to eat raw food with spoons, get rid of any sharp objects, the stove, the microwave, scissors, any sort of sharp object, all liquor, medicines, household cleaners, and any other thing she could ingest – oh, and paper. Because she stuck paper in her ear last week as well. We’d have to go very minimalist to rid the house of every potential “danger”.
But the catch is, I don’t want to do all that. I want to keep her safe, but I want to be able to let her be more independent as well. I could park her in front of the tv for hours – she’d be good with that – but I want her to go outside and play and use that adorable imagination of hers. I want to be able to use the toilet without worry, but I also want my family to live as normalish of a life as possible.
I could put her in a proverbial bubble, but I want her to mature and learn about the world around her. Maybe not to the point that she’s stealing my wine, but to the point that she can be trusted. That she understands limits and dangers. If we’re going to hang out together, forever, she needs to learn these things. I just need to learn how to let her learn these things without harming herself. Knock on wood, we’ve been pretty lucky so far.
So no easy answers here. We just keep going along, doing the best we can, all working hard to keep an eye on Maura and teach her what is and is not safe, just like you would a three year old. And she is capable of learning, she does understand. She hasn’t tried to cut open the watermelon, and has learned that wine glasses are good for apple juice and lemonade. The grill incident? I don’t even think she meant to turn the knob – I think it was a case of her dolly sliding down the grill and hitting the knob. So it’s just another time to talk to her about how that’s not a choice for playing with dolls on. She will understand.
Meanwhile, I have now shown the reason behind my coffee addiction. I need my wits about me at all times to keep up with this child as she learns!