My Pedicure Looks Like My Toddler Did It

Spoiler alert, she did. 

Toddlers and independence are like alkali metals and water, fairly explosive with varying degrees of intensity and destruction. There really isn't a lot they can do for themselves and it can be hard to distinguish what they are able to do from what they want to do. There are also countless contributing factors to a toddler's demeanor; sleep, hunger, annoyed by fuzz, are only a small sample of reasons why a toddler may think they can or can't do something themselves. 

Charlotte, for example, thinks that the worst thing in the world is that she can't cut potatoes with her wooden play knife. It drives her up a wall. But she so desperately wants to help cut potatoes and does not understand that it would be irresponsible for me to hand her a kitchen knife. We've even gone as far as trying hand over hand with her, so that she can cut the potatoes, and I can avoid an ER visit. This, however, does not fly with her. She must do it all by herself. Well, kid, no. 

Sometimes, though, the opposite is true. Somehow, the box of Lego is always heavier (too heavy to lift!) when you have to put it away, than it is when you insist on dumping it out. 

The knife example is paradigmatic of many activities we do in a day. Like driving. Or mowing the lawn. Or sitting alone in the car; the concept of "mommy would go to jail" just doesn't seem to persuade her. 

I want her to be as independent as possible. I want her to feel like she has as much independence as possible. It's an essential struggle of parenting; I don't feel alone in those desires. I often wonder how much she concedes in a day because of how much I am acknowledging her limitations. 

So, when I sit down to paint my toes and she wants to paint them for me? Go for it, kid, try not to get any on the carpet. Or the cat. Common ground is hard to find with a toddler. When I find something that she can, and wants, to do with enthusiasm, which also doesn't involve the probability of an injury, I say "milk it". Plus, she's actually does a pretty good job.