Letting your three-year-old learn to help themselves takes such patience when it would be so much quicker to force them into their shoes. It can be painful to watch them struggle, to yell at the sock that twists or the zipper that sticks. I want to rescue her. But I know she won't learn anything from that.
I walk away, ready to respond when her grunts of determination shift into yells of frustration.
I know that this patience will pay off when she, like her brother and sister before her, becomes more independent of me: getting her own snacks, brushing her own teeth, and running out the door to play in appropriate clothing.
What fascinates me is that as she pushes me away to find her own way, she pulls tighter to me in other ways; she cries and asks for just one more kiss on the mornings that I work, and seeks just one more cuddle before bedtime. She has chosen this time to need me less in some ways, and more in others.
And like always, I put my trust in her; in these ways, she does know best. I kiss her, go out the door, come back in for a series of five quick smooches in a row, then leave her crying her head off. When I come home, it is to find her running down the driveway wearing rainbow pants and yellow rubber boots (that she put on by herself), and I celebrate the many ways she is growing each day.