Today’s homeschooling adventure featured Beanie trying to write letters freehand. She is an excellent tracer of lines of all sorts, but it’s time for her to spread her penmanship wings and try to write her own letters. I don’t expect immediate results here, but even a three-and-a-half-year-old needs to leave her comfort zone from time to time.
If I have not previously mentioned this, Beanie is my daredevil. There is absolutely nothing that little girl will not try, from leaping off the entertainment center to eating raw anything, and the oft-repeated joke around here is that by the time she is a teenager, we will have frequent flier miles at the emergency room. Thankfully, she is also ridiculously coordinated, and thus far has managed to evade serious injury. Surely, drawing a pencil across a piece of paper would not cause such a girl as this to flinch.
But it did.
Beanie has had crayons in her hands since she was six months old, and plies them on blank paper and coloring pages with equal abandon. She will cheerfully trace her way through mazes and dot-to-dot puzzles, and is starting to figure out how to hold a pencil correctly. However, there is something about writing actual letters with a pencil — one of those things where it’s either the right way or the wrong way — that completely freaks her out.
It’s not as if writing the letter “R” is a critical skill for a child her age. I’ve known plenty who didn’t know what a letter “R” was at her age. Beanie, however, loves to please and loves to do the right thing (except when it comes to using the potty, but that’s another story for another day). If she thinks she’s going to get it wrong, she doesn’t want to try. The trick is to praise and cajole her through every tiny step in the process, as in, “You did a wonderful job picking up the pencil. Look, you’re holding it with the point towards the paper. That’s great! Can you put the pencil on the top line and make a letter “I”? Wonderful!”
This has worked great for tracing, but produced an absolute (and exceedingly rare) refusal in this instance. She did not want to write that letter. Coaxing, encouraging, praising — nothing worked. I sat down to feed Baby Guy and listened to Bugaboo encouraging her sister, “Come on, you can do it! Here, I’ll help you.”
In a wee, tiny voice that virtually dripped unshed tears, Beanie replied, “I don’t want you. I want Mommy to help me.”
There are few things that can melt my heart like one of the tiny people refusing all offers of help but mine. I know they’re growing up, and I want them to grow into strong and independent men and women, but there are days when I just want to say, “Please, wait — please stay little about something, just for a little while longer.” And there was Beanie, wanting Mommy and no one else.
I stepped around the table, stood behind her, and guided her little hand in the general shape of an “R,” then a “3”, grandually giving her less and less guidance until she attempted it herself. That was it for handwriting lessons for the day — it was time for hugs, kisses, and Hello Kitty marshmallows. I’m very proud of her efforts.
She may tell everyone she meets that she’s a big girl, but I’m glad there are still moments when she needs her mommy. I’m 40 years old, and I know there are moments when I still need mine.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for Your bright and brave blessings. Help me see new challenges through their eyes, and keep me mindful of times when something new seemed daunting, even overwhelming. You, who formed me in my mother’s womb, know that I was once very small, and while my memories of that time are fading, I remember a time when I did not know You well enough to rely on You to conquer my fears of the unknown. Help me teach them that You will strengthen and encourage them when Mommy and Daddy are not near — but thank You, Lord, for these days when we are near.