This morning Molly (aged 18 months) opened the refrigerator, pulled out a Ziploc with a piece of leftover pizza in it, opened the bag and started eating. Possibly my other children did this (they learn young to fend for themselves), but I don’t remember quite such precocity. Either way, now that she has mastered cold-pizza-for-breakfast, she’s ready to sleep through History of Civilization.
Here she is helping herself to more of the lunch of champions last week:
I try to not take my kids’ development too personally, not to feel that accomplishments or milestones reached early are due to superior parenting OR to blame myself for set-backs like Lucy’s (hopefully overcome) kleptomania, but I admit I have always felt a little proud of how self-sufficient my kids are. But there’s a definite downside. An eighteen-month old’s self-sufficiency is not the same as a thirty-four-year old’s and the biggest difference is in the collateral damage. Sure, she can feed herself and get as much down her gullet as I can, but how is the floor going to look afterward?
Luckily for the kids, my laziness in the moment is greater than my cleaner’s regret in the long run. Though I did draw the line at Molly sitting in her high chair. She thought she was ready to graduate to sitting/kneeling/standing like her sisters and for a week or so I didn’t fight that battle. Then one day after mopping (we’re talking big chunks, I’m not a cleanliness martyr) the floor three times before naps, I apologized in advance at the dinner table and then we strapped her into her seat. She screamed for what seemed like an eternity and was probably only (only!) three-four minutes, eyes bulging, forehead splotching. Since then she hasn’t protested. The funny thing about that is I know moms who would look at me like I’m crazy: “You let her eat outside of the high chair?” and from others: “You forced her to sit in the high chair?”
I’ve been a mom for eleven years now, and . . . I don’t know what to tell you. Today she worked her way around the kid table after the cake and ice cream for her cousin’s birthday, scavenging off the plates half-ravaged by children impatient to get back to playing. She was so cute and stealthy (and had sat in her seat for the mashed potatoes) that I didn’t stop her until Callie realized it was her plate Molly was pilfering and protested, loudly. I guess that makes me an Anti-Helicopter-Free-Range Parent.