Even in utero I knew Hannah would be strong and tough like her Dad. It was easy to envision my future olympic swimmer as she kicked and prodded me with all her might. But when she arrived 5 weeks early with all her delicate appendages, I babied her to pieces. My husband, on the other hand, has spent every waking minute with her trying to “toughen her up.”
At first it wasn’t easy to watch him fling her around in a pillow fight or flail her around, but she absolutely loves it now. I watch her and long for the days in my youth of being tickled until tears. I remember the rush of holding on for dear life while swinging around in circles. When he pushes her higher on the swings I feel the butterflies that flittered in my stomach while coasting through the air. Her squeals of joy are contagious as they turn us all into kids again. (Not that my husband isn’t already one…)
The flip side of all this roughhousing is that my adventuresome tot is fearless. She climbs and rides and rushes around with impressive strength. Zac has taught me that it’s just as important to let her learn to walk as it is to let her learn to fall. His favorite expression after her early falls was to tell her to “put some dirt on it.” By giving her space, not rushing over to kiss each boo-boo, and encouraging her to get right back up on her own she has become amazingly confident.
During the early days with Audrey, Hannah spent a lot of time outside with her Dad. I’m so happy that she had a chance to learn to explore and get carelessly dirty. It’s a lesson I would have had trouble teaching on my own, but am now eager to encourage. In fact, I try to leave my shoes behind and explore the yard barefoot with her now. There’s something refreshing about feeling grounded and putting down roots this way. Give it a shot!