Teach Me to Be Brave
June 28th, 2012
I think of myself as a strong, confident woman. More than anything, I want my daughter to be confident in her own abilities. I want her to lead rather than follow. To be brave because she knows that she can overcome any obstacle.
But I am at a loss for how to teach her this.
The truth is, Miss Mouse is a weenie. (And, sweetie, if you’re reading this ten years from now, know that I say that with nothing but love.) She tends to be timid and a fearful. She defaults into whine mode at the drop of a hat and can dissolve into tears at the slightest provocation. Like when she spies a picnic bug at the end of the slide. Or when her brother glares at her.
This overly-meek persona tends to come out most around me. In fact, I suspect it ONLY comes out around me.
Case in point: a few weeks ago, we went camping. There was a nice swimming pool at the campsite and Miss Mouse spent a blissful hour leaping off the side of the pool. Josh was poised ready to catch her and she would admonish him each time — “No, Daddy! Move farther back!” — before launching.
Flash forward to this Monday’s swim lesson where we practiced jumping into the pool. Miss Mouse would not jump for me. She fussed. And cried. And sat down on the edge of the pool. And would not leave the edge until my hands were firmly under armpits.
What is that about?
When I drop Miss Mouse off at school, she inevitably has a meltdown. There’s pouting. And tears. And this morning she actually ran out of the room three times as I tried to leave, wrapping herself around my legs and shrieking.
When Josh drops her off, she waves goodbye and goes off the play.
It breaks my heart and frustrates me to the point of neurosis at the same time. And I have no idea what to do about it. Should I be supportive? Stern? Do I give her hugs and calm her imaginary fears or tell her to suck it up? Do I offer rewards for bravery or remove privileges for sniveling?
I’ve started having Josh take over more Mouse duties. He took her to her ‘interview’ at the Montessori school she’ll be attending this fall because I was terrified that she’d “do her thing” for them and they’d decide she wasn’t ready for school. Next week, he’ll be dropping her off at school. And I’ll probably have him take her to future swim lessons.
But I don’t like that plan because it means I’m missing out on experiences I want to have with my daughter. So I need a new plan. Any suggestions?