Alice was an Army brat for three years, spent two of them without her father, a year and a half without an official home of her own, and her first seven days in the NICU. Some people might think this unstable upbringing has future convict written all over it, but it had an extraordinary effect. Alice is proof that if you deny your child certain entitlements that modern moms deem necessary, you enable your kids to adapt to life’s obstacles in exceptional ways. During John’s deployments we lived with my mother in law whose house is like Grand Central Station. The large amount of people baby Alice encountered on a daily basis. has given her a type of friendliness that reaches outside the generalities of innocence and child like optimism. Today she is a big people person. I wish I could say the same for Lil’ Dottie May, who was raised in a bat cave peppered with trips to Wal-Mart.
Dottie is released into the world and at a nice restaurant. See Dottie May’s outings here.
Prior to Dottie May and our suburban dream, my life consisted of Alice and I living alone. There was a lot of Bravo watching and Chinese food eating on the couch. When John was away Alice never had a schedule. I would come and go as I please, and she would silently sleep in her car seat. Outside of colic, Alice is proof that some babies can be low maintenance. Baby Alice never acquired a set of expectations for how her day was going to unfold, which forced her to become adaptable to any situation. At five years old she’s still easy going.
Toddler Alice kept to a similiar lifestyle until she was two and a half. Then John returned and life went back to somewhat normal. She learned to entertain herself with hand me down toys and emulating whatever I had to do around the house. I should mention that John and I were a one car family. I no longer had to option to go out during his work hours. Still it was us two entertaining ourselves in a completely different way then when he was deployed. Again, a massive lifestyle shift that forced her to adapt and find contentment.
Our big Fort Drum outings involved a lot of dirt and animals. Alice is a serious rock collector, live animal lover, and stuffed animal hoarder.
Since we’ve moved and life changed again, it’s been hard keeping her roped into a simple lifestyle. We went to Disney World and she had a taste of real privilege. The truth is there is no coming back from that. Every other day she asks me to go back and I can’t fault her for wanting something so spectacular. Alice isn’t the only one who has changed. We’ve all gotten used to a life full of amenities. I’m not about to do anything drastic and put our lifestyle on a yo yo diet, but Alice’s birthday has reminded me to reel it all back in just a little.
Today she is the most adaptable, nurtering, patient, independent, personable person I know. Her earlier life was no picnic and the truth is, I can a little dumb when it comes to taking care of a baby. On top of my oblivion to temperature, kids entertainment, snacks, baby gear, I no helicopter mom. I sit on the bench at the playground, and allow her to fight her own battles and figure a lot out for herself. Parenting a little less has given my kids a little more room to grow. Tweet this. She’s capable of doing a lot of things like emptying the dishwasher, feeding the dog, and even cleaning the kitchen floor. It’s amazing to see how much a 5 year old can do if you let them. Since I started watching Walking dead and post apocolytic movies, my twisted mind often thinks that if something horrible happened and Alice was alone, she would be okay.
One more thing…Alice ate tofu curry when she was 6 months. Ate kimchi and sardines when she was a year old. Today she will try everything you pass her way, like escargot at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. Her bravery extends to food, a quality that I deeply value. Her new favorite is Serrano ham wrapped bread sticks with truffle salt. How anyone could not like this is a mystery.
The lessons Alice has taught me.
How to be warm and friendly to everyone. (There’s a lot of room for improvement on this one.)
It’s better to be easy going because we have little to no control over what life throws at us.
We don’t need to clutter our lives with activities because it drowns out the simple pleasures found within our daily grind.
Even though she doesn’t talk a lot, the snippets of wisdom she has causes me to believe that she’s incredibly attuned to the ebb and flow that life puts us through. Her unpleasant facts of life created a setting for me to sow an extraordinary seed.
Now that Alice is a “big girl” she’s starting to grasp certain realities that’s requiring my parenting to go up a notch. As a parent, one of the hardest pills to swallow is the fact that I’m not raising happy kids, but future adults. It’s so natural for me to want to take her back to Disney every year, buy her all the toys she wants, and give her all the things I didn’t have. What’s difficult to remember is handing down all the things I was given as a child that made me the resourceful, creative person I am today. What did your parents bestow upon you that was given to them as a child? Whether it’s not playing a sport you wanted to participate in or not buying you an expensive toy, maybe you had that extra time to talk with each other, and learn how to make an idea work using what you had on hand. If I give Alice everything she needs to be happy today, there would be nothing for her to work towards tomorrow.
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Linked to Motivation Monday.