My Bug is a wild man. He is fiercely independent, focused, resourceful, and physically adventurous. He is a risk taker, but at the same time, is deliberate and calculating, rarely pushing himself past what his body can handle.
Throw in the self-regulation that I’m pretty sure we’re cultivating, and he is the Golden Child of RIE.
He is fearless.
My Babygirl, on the other hand, is cautious.
Movement is different for her. It has been from the beginning. The Bug was born wanting to go somewhere and was consumed by “solving” his immobility until he had mastered rolling, crawling, climbing, and running. (He more or less skipped over walking.) But with Babygirl, movement has always been about curiosity and exploration. While she hit those milestones on almost exactly the same timeline, it was never the next step that drove her, but rather, the process. In that way, it strikes me now, she is a bit of a RIE All Star in her own right.
She didn’t ask, Where am I going next? but simply, What next?
Now that she is fourteen months and RUNNING, I see reservations where her brother had none. Peering over the edge of the sofa, she’ll ask for help, even though she has climbed down safely before. When she walks up to a step, she looks around, unsure, and will eventually crawl down if she hasn’t been picked up first. Her brother would have braced himself against the wall and stepped down.
When she falls, she gets back up and tries again. But she doesn’t fall as often. And I’m realizing that watching her decide to avoid a risk or an unknown is making me question my parenting. (It’s also making me realize that I may be patting myself on the back for much of what is just her brother’s natural temperament, but that’s another post.)
If she reaches for me instead of trying to navigate the stairs on her own, what does that mean? Am I not providing her with the opportunities she needs to explore and solve problems? Am I not allowing enough struggle? Am I not supporting her enough? Am I supporting her too much?
Am I doing it all wrong?
Or, maybe, I am doing it all “right,” (or, at least, alright) but I need to be okay with her personality being a variable. I don’t want my lens to be so narrow that I see her nature as a failure of my parenting because that’s one very small step from making it a failure of hers. So what if she is cautious when faced with uncertainty? Some might argue that pausing to assess a challenge before acting is actually preferable to jumping in headfirst and trying the first thing you think of on the way down.
Yes, her brother would have walked down the stairs, but she is her own person. She doesn’t feel ready, so she climbs down. She’s still getting down the stairs. Perhaps she isn’t fearless, but she is brave in her own way.
And, lest I forget it, here she is, climbing a ladder into the attic just to keep me on my toes: