My Nico has always been a bit of a cautious child, resistant to change. He gets a lot of it from me, I'm sure, and I've always tried to be patient with him because I remember how upsetting it can be to be asked to deviate from routine. And when he does try something new or step outside his comfort zone, it's all the sweeter for knowing it was hard but he did it anyway. I suspect other parents probably think I'm crazy or a coddler if they notice things like me praising Nico for trying out a toddler slide so small that his feet nearly touched the ground from the top, but maybe not. Maybe they see the pride in his face at these moments and realize that some of these small things are a big deal.
When I was pregnant with Elliott, we gently tried suggesting to Nico that he'd be a big boy now, a big brother. He emphatically informed us he didn't want to be a big boy. One day he shouted "I don't want to be a big brother! No!" When I asked him why not, he said, "I'm not big! I'm little!" So we let him be the little boy and told him the baby was the baby boy. When he resisted potty training and wearing big boy underpants, we tried really hard to be patient. Then he went to preschool and he slowly blossomed. He gained confidence and started playing with other kids. He tried new things. He went back to Grandma's last week and is now wearing underpants at least part of every day. He insists upon bringing me the baby's bottle when he needs to eat and working the finger puppet in the baby's bedtime story book. And the other day when I absentmindedly told him, "Come on, baby," he told me, "I'm not a baby. I'm a big boy." I won't tell him he's still kind of my baby, because he is a big boy. He is, and I'm so proud.
Reading: Hidden America by Jeanne Marie Laskas
Playing: Babel by Mumford & Sons