Lessons from a fishbowl

Some moms are crafty moms.  I am not one of them.  I do things with my child.  We read, we pretend play, we color, we work puzzles and stack blocks.  We count, we sing, we chat, we build blanket forts and we bake together.  However, I have not done many crafts with her.  True, she’s only 21 months old, but I know mamas with kiddos the same age who regularly do crafts with them.  It’s just not me.

The bluebird.

But, a couple of weeks ago we started going to a different story time at a library across town.  This story time is better in many ways (and worth the drive).  And it includes a craft time at the end.  Lexiana is quite enjoying it.  And I’m holding my own.  The first craft we made was a bluebird.  It was fine enough, but it was a bit harder for her to manage.  I did most of it.  I let her press things down in glue, but that was about it.

Then last week, we made a fish bowl.  The fish bowl and fish were pre-cut, so all we had to do was glue fish onto the fish bowl.  My OCD, adult mannerisms made me want to place those fish in some sort of order and certainly not overlap them.  I wanted them spaced just so.  I wanted one of each color.  However, I quickly learned that Lexiana had other ideas.  I gave her fish with glue on them and let her stick them on herself after showing her the first one.

The unorganized and beautiful fishbowl.

When she placed the second one partially overlapping the first and not in any sort of order, I almost corrected her.  But, I caught myself.  It was a good reminder of what I know, yet am still learning: Lexiana is her own person.  She is not an extension of me.  And just because she doesn’t do things the way I do them doesn’t always make them wrong.

For the first year or so of her life, this didn’t really come up because she couldn’t be all that independent.  Now that she’s almost 2, that is certainly changing — as it should.  I know it’s only beginning.  I most definitely am learning when to pick my battles.  Placing fish on a fishbowl certainly wasn’t a battle to pick.  The last thing I want to do is squash her creativity.  She is learning and growing and exploring and she needs to be free to do that.

She’s already teaching me lessons.  For example, I learned last week that a chaotic fishbowl can be beautiful.  When she finished placing her fish, I realized that not only was it beautiful but it was actually more realistic to what fish in a fish bowl would look like.  Real fish aren’t orderly, organized and evenly space.  And there is beauty in that.

I was proud of my girl.  This was her first real craft, I’d say.  I took photos, of course.  She proudly showed it off to her daddy later that day.  And she even showed it off to our dog, Buckles.  She had a lot to be proud of, and so did I.

My kiddo is starting to make her own way in this world.  I just pray I have the strength and wisdom to know when to let her go and do her own thing.

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