So the other day I was shopping at Michael’s to work on a project for my 9 month old when I came across a table that had gingerbread house kits on sale for 2.99! Great deal I thought! My daughter will love this. I brought it home and immediately Ameera was ecstatic and wanted to build it. The first night she and her father worked on actually constructing the frame of the house, which they worked on diligently. The second day she and I decorated it with icing and candy.
However, as I sat down with her, my natural perfectionist instinct was to try to make the house look like the picture perfect models displayed on the box. My first mistake was to ask her which house on the box she wanted to replicate. Instead I should have just let her use her imagination to create a home of her choice.We then began to ice the roof, she took one side and I the other, and of course I was so concerned with making my side of the roof look smooth and clean and to cover all the brown parts of the gingerbread with icing, while Ameera’s side had globs of icing on various spots, obviously less than perfect vision. I attempted to try to “fix” her side, (my second mistake) and ended up in a power struggle with my poor 4 year old trying to make the house look the way I thought it should look. What is wrong with me? I kept asking myself over and over desperately trying to just let her be and have fun and enjoy herself, which she was thankfully. But during the candy trimming I continued in my effort to strategically place the pieces of candy where I thought they looked best, as did Ameera, and occasionally I would replace one of her candies or move one of her gumdrop bushes only to be reprimanded and scolded for doing so. “MAMA! Why are you moving that! I did that!” She would yell desperately trying to clue me in to the fact that this was meant to be HER project, not mine. Why was it soooo hard for me to let go?
I realized one very important lesson in parenting and teaching. I was invading my child’s world. This was meant to be “her” creation and therefore this was her territory and I imposed my imaginatively limited adult mind on her limitless one. Overall the experience was enjoyable for both of us. But next time I need to learn to just let go! Had I left her to to design and decorate the house as she saw fit It probably would have looked totally different. I now can only wonder and imagine what her vision of it would have looked like, instead I see only pieces of her and unfortunately most of my own.
Christina is a mother of two who divides her time between being an English teacher, writing consultant, and soon to be homeschooler. She blogs at Reflections of a Muslim American Educator and recently started the Muslim Mom Network Homeschoolers Google Group.