My daughter turned 8 last autumn and in my mind, she is still 18 months old. It’s starting to become a problem.
I see it cropping up in so many ways–mostly her behavior because she’s being regarded as a toddler and not as the young lady she is becoming. Lately, I’ve gotten a very full dose of “Wow–you are really not meeting her needs because you keep treating her like she’s little instead of recognizing how much is going on in there.”
She also has a history of wanting to do things that she is not ready to do. She wanted to potty train for a year. Because training didn’t happen instantly and I was knee-deep in the throes of a relocation that pushed 4 moves onto us in a span of 6 months, I let it go until later. Late enough that I feared having missed a window of opportunity.
She wanted to learn to read at age 4 and wouldn’t tolerate the traditional method of learning to read. I decided no child NEEDED to read at age 4 and didn’t find an alternative method of teaching her. She finally learned to read around age 6.
My girl is different from her brother in so many ways and it makes it incredibly difficult for me to see her growth as clearly. But there is no mistaking her desire to grow and be treated differently in so many ways. I knew things needed to change for her, but today she is having such a difficult time in a way that truly started to look like puberty hormones. And it hit me…
She will be NINE this year.
And I am still treating her like she is five.
And she is feeling disregarded and dumb instead of supported and encouraged.
My girl… she is so bright and kind and generous. She is bright in different ways than my son–ways he may never be able to match her current level of function. I’m letting that waste away and that really needs to change. I see it in her behavior–her resentment at being given stupid things to do. Her lack of confidence with kids her age and her growing tendency to play with younger children. Her growing anxiety over not knowing how to be like the other kids her age. Her complaining about what she doesn’t get to do that kids her age are doing and making her feel more left out. She calls me out on it and I am again in the position of underestimating one of my kids abilities.
This amazing child. What could she be if I were to treat her like a child closer to the end of elementary school rather than the beginning? I have no idea.