If you have no fear to begin with, you have nothing to let go of.
Three years ago you were born full of instinct, love, trust and spirit. Rich in compassion for people and animals, with a thirst for knowledge and wisdom, and a kind soul full of happiness.
At such a young age, there are some choices that you cannot make yourself. Choices that society has invented. So we are not asking you to make them.
I will never try to take away your natural wants and needs in the world. I won’t tell you that it’s probably too rainy and cold to play outside – you are learning to appreciate the British weather – or that you should be in bed because all the other children in our street are – you are learning what tiredness feels like. Last night at 9pm you said ‘Mummy, I’m going to bed’. And you did! I will not tell you what is ‘socially acceptable’ if you don’t need to know just yet. I won’t compare your development to that of other children. You are you – you don’t know what it says in the book. I won’t say ‘be careful’ when you’re undertaking something risky – you are finding your way in just fine on your own. When you need me, I’m there – but you know that.
Even though it’s very difficult not to, I won’t praise you when you achieve something you are proud of. I won’t say ‘good boy’ – those achievements are all yours – you are learning when to be proud of yourself. Yesterday you said ‘I made it!’ when you climbed up the netting to the slide in the park by yourself. I try my very best to not tell you what to say, and if I tell you to say ‘thank you’ or ‘please’ then afterwards I tell myself off – because many times you have done this of your own accord and that means so much more.
I will never make you give someone a hug or a kiss if you don’t want to. Your spontaneous affection means so much more than forced, uncomfortable gestures. I won’t wade in to a dispute with another child at the first opportunity – you are learning that sometimes you have to take turns and share. But, I will never make you share your things if you don’t want to – they belong to you and they are precious. When you choose to share something through kindness it is so much more worthwhile as you will see how happy it makes the other person – and you will feel good for doing a good thing. I try my very best to not raise my voice when something you do goes a little bit (or a lot) wrong. There is no use in shouting at you, or punishing you, or making you feel small. I will try to explain the consequences of your actions. You are starting to see the effect of your actions.
I will always let you lead your own learning. You know, in your own mind, what you want to know about in that moment. Sometimes you watch your iPad for three hours, then play outside for four, then play rescue missions all evening. Or some days, you want to lay on the bed and watch Fireman Sam all day. Because that’s just how you feel. A few months ago you didn’t want to leave the house/garden/street at all. It was hard, but we respected that you had your reasons and now of your own accord you want to go out on adventures again.
This is one of the hardest, and I slip up A LOT, but I will always try to let you choose your own food to eat. I will not make you conform to societal rules of when and what to eat – you want food when you are hungry, not when someone tells you it is a meal time. When you ask, I explain about healthy and unhealthy foods, and sometimes you choose the healthier option when I’ve explained the benefits to your body. Often, you pick the chocolate. But you’re three, and chocolate tastes good.
You are my child, but I do not own you. Your body is your own and so is your mind. No one is born wise, but every day I see your knowledge growing into wisdom. I long to see the world through your eyes. Everything is an adventure and anywhere is your playground. Your days are filled with freedom, laughter, exploration, games, questions and more questions. What are shadows made of? Why is the sea blue? What does the grass do? Why are the baby plants babies? What does that bird want? Is the bee looking for his friends? Can you make it snow mummy? Why isn’t the Internet working? Why can’t I have more birthday presents?
It’s not all rosy. But who can say they never get upset? And why would your sadness and anger when your toys don’t do what you want them to, or when the chocolate is all gone, matter less than ‘grown up’ issues? It absolutely doesn’t matter less. We try to explain that sometimes being angry will only breed more anger in you, and we are here when you need us for a cuddle, or to help you put the plastic man back into the train when he just won’t fit.
Your wants and needs are immediate. You live in the now. You are the embodiment of mindfulness. You have never known anything else. For as long as possible, if not forever, I hope you stay that way.
I love you my beautiful, thoughtful, crazy, stubborn, strong-willed, sensitive, creative child. Don’t ever feel like you have to change, for anyone. You can be whoever and whatever you want to be. And you’re working it all out for yourself, leading the way.
Me: ‘Mummy will bring this pizza in for you in a minute, it’s too hot.’
You: ‘I’ll get my fire hose.’
I couldn’t be more proud.