Before we knew better, my husband and I would pick our then 2 (ish) year old daughter up and bring her wherever we wanted her to go. I mean hey- we only had so much time to get where we “needed” her to be.
Sydney would defy and protest. She was steadfast in her resolve to continue whatever play she was involved in.
My husband and I would try to reason with her. We’d try to explain. She would have none of it.
So we would pick up her screaming crying body and bring it where we wanted it to be. Sometimes it was the tub, sometimes the store, sometimes upstairs or down.
The screams and protests would continue- until we picked her up. Then she would go totally limp. She knew there was nothing she could do. We were bigger. We were stronger. We held 100% of the power.
I can still recall what her limp little body felt like in my arms. We could do whatever we wanted to it. We were in control of her body.
I don’t remember how I was clued into how horrific this was, but the second I learned was the last time we ever had a limp defeated body in our arms. From that point forward we may have yelled, we may have been royally ticked off, but we never picked her up against her will again.
Adjusting to this caused us to miss plans. We were often late. Sometimes our friends got mad. Then we found better friends 🙂
This change allowed me to get to know Sydney. I got to learn what she needed to be ready to go. I got to understand that sometimes she really just needed her space and for me to cancel our time out in the world that day.
Obviously, I wish we’d never once picked her up against her will, but it’s what I’d always known. I’d never seen a parent adjust plans because their toddler was busy playing and would not leave. I’d never considered making less plans to accommodate an introvert.Most importantly, I think, I had never considered the concept of bodily autonomy- especially for a child.
Thank goodness for new information. Thank goodness for being exposed to people who are doing things more kindly. Thank goodness for the good fortune we had of learning that some families treat their children like people.
If not for them, my kids would be living a miserable life. But they are not. Thank goodness.