I'm working on letting my son be. I'm trying my best to not hover, to let him fall, to let him engage in what he will without me suggesting it. I want him to lead. When I'm successful at this, our days seem to be a lot smoother. Today, I put him up on my back and went outside to hang the diapers on the line. Almost immediately, he started squirming wanting to get down. I took him down from my back and let him wander in the wet grass and soft ground. He was off. Every little blade of grass, every ant on the sidewalk, every dandelion seed needed exploring. I let him be, continued to hang the laundry, glancing occasionally towards him to make sure he wasn't trying to swallow a rock or the like. When I finished and told him I was ready to go inside, he turned towards me with muddy water dripping off of his chin onto his shirt and pants. But, oh my, he was happy. *breathe* "Let him be, Mama," I thought.
Later that day he wandered over to his craft drawer and pulled out the water colors he had yet to experiment with. I knew that painting wouldn't be confined to the paper but his interest in the paints would not be deterred. I put a towel down, grabbed a large piece of paper, stripped him down to his diaper, and let him go to town. The result was a colorful and happy baby (and, okay, the paper was colorful too). Let him be.
It's easy to direct him towards an activity, it's difficult to allow him to lead. Why is that? Maybe because there is the pervasive undertone of "the parent decides" in American culture. Maybe because it is easier to plan around activities if I've predetermined what they will be. Maybe because I feel the need to "teach" him things and I don't know that much about mud and paint. But maybe, just maybe, he know what he needs and wants to learn and the experience of the doing - the being - is exactly what needs to happen.