We took my daughter to a Halloween party yesterday. She was so excited to put her costume (Minnie Mouse – her choice) on. She was especially excited to see cupcakes at the party (she ate all the frosting, and one bit of the cake part). She was even excited to see all the costumes the other kids were wearing.
The one thing she seemed uninterested in was playing with the other kids.
She goes to a daycare with two other kids, whom she loves playing with. I would even say she may be more outgoing (and aggressive, but not in a bad way) than the other kids.
But at the party, she insisted she was “a little shy” and didn’t want to run around and shout and dance with the other kids. Some of the kids were a little older, so maybe it was a bit understandable. But there were also a lot of kids her age. Still, she was “a little shy.”
Then something else happened that made me start to worry…
I saw a group of kids dancing around at the party. She had been having fun dancing with us the whole weekend. I asked her, “do you want to go dance?” I thought I said, “.. with the other kids,” but maybe I didn’t.
My daughter said, “yes,” then grabbed my hand and said, “come on, daddy!”
“Don’t you wanna go dance with the other kids, sweetie?” I asked. “No, wanna dance with daddy,” is the response I got.
Now, we’ve always let her try things like running and climbing, etc. when she was younger. But it made us feel better that we were nearby to keep her from seriously injuring herself. But we were first time parents, so it was a little understandable, right?
So, here I am, struggling between not wanting her to feel neglected and wanting her to develop the ability to play on her own, without needing our involvement. It seems as if, when we are around, she wants us involved in whatever she does.
You see, she isn’t really that shy. It may take her a little bit to warm up to people, but she always does. And usually, quite quickly. I think she may just become to used to us being around and being involved.
And that’s why I am afraid we are turning into helicopter parents. Or maybe we’ve created a need in her for us to be helicopter parents.
It isn’t what we intended at all. Both of our families have a long line of very strong, very independant women. That’s they way we intend to raise our daughter.
Maybe I am worrying prematurely. She is only 27 months old. Maybe now we need to step back on the playground, letting her learn through success and failure. After all, while we still feel sad for her when she gets a bruise or a scape, we worry a little less about it. Maybe now we need to encourage her to do things we know she loves when we need to make dinner; like looking through a book, or drawing with crayons, or putting her stuffed toys to bed.
She’s young. She’s strong. I think she can handle it.
I’m not sure I can.