The other day my almost 4 year old, Ava, strapped herself in her carseat for the first time yesterday all by herself. Not only did she do this but just prior she opened the car door to get in all by herself. Then closed the door and got in her car seat all by herself and eventually put on her seatbelt all by herself. All of this done for the first time – yes all by herself – and she could not be happier!
And while all this was happening, I was putting my 2.5 year old daughter, Ellie, in her car seat who suddenly decided she was a big girl and clicked in her top restraint of her car seat buckle – you guessed it, all by herself – and she could not be happier!
Prior to all this, Ava learned to get in and out of her “big girl” bed, put on her clothes, brush her teeth, get the bath ready and get in, goto the bathroom, get herself water and drink from a “big girl” cup with ease, and basically feed herself – all by herself – and she could not be happier.
And Ellie is now pooping on the potty – all by herself – and also has a “big girl” bed and she too cannot be happier!
And not too far away, Ava will be going to school and making friends. She will start to multiply and learn to solve math problems. She will begin to learn to deal with mean girls or become one herself. She will understand that the world is a big place and not just a small house with a few rooms that consist of only Mom and Dad. And she will be so happy to learn all this – all by herself!
Not long after, she will suddenly have an interest in boys and learn all about life’s greatest mystery: Love. And she will do this all by herself. Suddenly, she will realize that the world is not just about the friends you make or the jokes you share or the chores that Mom and Dad make you do, but instead, its about whatever you make it – and she will do this and love it all by herself!
Within a blink, Ava is now eager to learn about adulthood. She knows that she is not a child anymore and wants to do everything and anything all by herself and will push anybody away that challenges her. She will suddenly yearn and love her body changing into a young woman – physically and mentally. This change will bring a whole new question about life and she will find out in her own way on how to solve it – all by herself.
Suddenly, she is in High School and realizes that making friends and keeping them is harder. Simple tasks like turning on a light switch and being happy about it is not as easy as it once was when she was 3. Ava will question things that make her happy and challenge the way she sees life. And as this process is happening her little sister will follow her footsteps 1.5 years behind. Both will learn that the world does not come with instructions and that the things Mom and Dad tried to teach, like how to strap in a car seat or tie your shoes, was actually the best times of their lives. For now, life is hard. Suddenly, those simple math problems are much harder and mean something. Suddenly, there is pressure to get good grades, get a job, make money, get a car. Suddenly there is something called responsibility. The world that was only Mom and Dad now seems to be swallowed up by this new reality called life. Suddenly, the world seems so much smaller and not so big and full of wonderful surprises as it once was when Ava was strapping herself in her car seat. Suddenly, becoming an adult is not as exciting and thrilling as it was when she was 3. She will realize this and figure it out – all by herself.
Ava, along with her sister, will get through the tough times and learn to deal with life’s problems. Now they are both married with children and teaching the same things their Mom and Dad taught them. Now they both realize the stress and heartache that they put on their parents. Now they realize all the stuff that drove their parents crazy and now understand why they would yell for the smallest and silliest things. They will both realize why Mommy had to go to work and why Daddy had to travel to Germany so much. They will understand why bedtime means bedtime and not silly-let’s-play time. They will now understand why they were not allowed to eat candy all day long and why Dr visits were important. They will learn and love to appreciate life again through their children’s eyes and they will learn this all by themselves.
Then one day, Ava’s daughter, opens the car door, gets in and closes the door, gets in her carseat and straps herself in – all by herself. And Ava will look at this Child and be happy knowing that she too once strapped herself in her car seat during a time where the world was so big and open and anything was possible; when being able to do Adult things meant so much. And Ava will look down at her child, whose smiling from ear to ear, and say the only thing that she could say – even though internally she wants to cry as this child is so innocent and pure and does not understand the reality of being an Adult – “You did it!!!! ALL BY YOURSELF!!”.