One of the first conversations David and I had regarding child-rearing after Sarah was born was that we agreed we wanted to raise a strong-willed girl.
To say that Sarah is strong-willed is something of an understatement. She is extremely articulate, has no trouble speaking her mind, and is an ace negotiator. She is very good at getting what she wants. I do not mean to imply that she is spoiled, because she is not. It's more that she is great at staying on message, and her follow-up skills are unparalleled. David calls her the best project manager he has ever worked for.
As her mother, I am very proud to see these qualities, as I know they will serve her well throughout her lifetime. Often, these qualities serve me very well. She is old enough to help me out a bit with household management, and caring for her brothers, and she thrives on this increased responsibility.
David packs our kids lunches in the morning before he leaves for work, leaving the finishing touches--desserts and cold packs--to me. This year, Sarah has taken this task on herself, which I love, because for reasons I don't understand, I loathe packing lunches.
She can, and will gladly change Sacha's diaper (I don't make her do the poopy ones), and dress him in the morning. I don't even need to lay out clothes for him anymore; as long as she knows the weather, she is more than capable of getting him ready.
At dinner time, I have seen her unbidden, clap her hands twice, call, "Boys, dinner!" And they come running!
Her responsible nature is also very useful at the pool, as I can task her with watching Sacha, and go to the bathroom by myself. This ability to pee in private, even if it is still only an occasional occurrence, is a milestone in a mother's life!
But all this self-confidence and competence also comes with a price. She is so effortlessly authoritative, that I have, on occasion, found myself almost answering to her. Last week when I picked the kids up from school, I needed to move my car. After my kids were gathered, I told Sarah I was going to move the car, and she needed to watch Sacha on the playground for a few minutes. As I began to walk away, she stopped me to ask why I needed to move the car, and I began to answer her, before I remembered, WAIT A MINUTE; I AM THE MOTHER. I DON'T NEED TO GIVE YOU AN EXPLANATION! So I stopped myself mid-sentence, said,"Just go watch your brother!" and turned on my heel.
This weekend, I was running errands with Sarah and Sacha, and we were walking downhill, Sarah several feet in front of Sacha and me. She stopped, called, "Sacha, come!" at which point he let go of my hand, and started to run down the hill to catch up with her. I get a little crazy about small children running downhill. Like Cassandra, I foresee the nasty spill, the scrapes and bruises, the split chin. I wanted Sacha walking slowly down the hill, holding my hand. So I raised my voice: "Sarah: Mommy check! Is there a mother in charge here?" "Yes," she agreed. "Good," I said, "Now please remember this, or I will not even consider the possibility of you having a sleepover for the next month."
I am not sure how much her competence has to do with our excellent parenting skills (unlikely), and how much of it is her natural temperament (highly likely), but, as I am learning over time, be careful what you wish for, as it will sometimes come to bite you on the ass.