Growing up too fast

One of the mistakes I made in my life was growing up too fast. I didn't allow myself to play as much as I should have and took on responsibilities before it was "age appropriate." Being wise beyond my years has its advantages but it came at a great cost as well. Now that I am looked to as the mature one, I have to bear a burden I've been carrying a long time and eventually it gets tiring. There are days I want to be immature and crazy and irresponsible but those moments are not within my reach at this stage of life.

I tell you all of that, on a blog geared toward our adoption story, to explain why I may be more sensitive to people expecting more from kids than they are capable of. There are certain characteristics that I instill in our children from the day they are born but my standards for what those look like remains age appropriate and changes as they grow up.

Jaydn comes to us from a culture that predominately sees children as "help." They are born and put to work at whatever capacity they can be. There is little time for them to goof off, make a mess, learn from mistakes when they are busy cleaning, fetching water, or preparing dinner. I even heard adults refer to the children as being immature when they acted out like a typical child of that age and it made me cringe. There is such a lack of allowances for childlikeness.

Its obvious to me that Jaydn has a strong work ethic in her. She prefers to be involved in the adult activities or conversations rather than the play of the other children. She would rather be helping me unload the dishwasher than watching a cartoon or playing dress up.

This was especially brought to my attention when I noticed how often she observes the interactions between a mommy and her baby. She will stare for hours at a mother when she is caring for an infant (feeding, rocking, soothing etc). At first I thought it was because she was longing to be held and tended to that way but over time it became more prevalent that she didn't want to be the baby, she wanted to be the mommy.

While we were in FL my friend Stephanie was allowing Jaydn to hold her newborn son Trace and help feed him and a part of Jaydn came a live. She relished in that sense of tender responsibility. It made me think about what life would look like for her if she were still in Uganda. Most likely she would be tending to the babies like the older kids took care of her when she was immobile.

It is sweet in one sense but it is also saddening to me that she is trying to grow up so quickly. As someone who missed the opportunity to be childish, I want all of my kids to experience the simplicity and freedom of being a kid. I don't want to negate her desire to help out but I do want to balance that out with a sense of life being an open field to make of it what she wants with nothing required of her, at least for the moment.

I want to give Jaydn the gift of being a child again.

1 comment:

The Raudenbush Family said...

Can I repost this on WAGI? It's a really interesting perspective on our adopted children that I think readers could really benefit from.

Also, I wanted to direct you to my blog and the WAGI post about The Sparrow Fund if you didn't see it. We would love to get the word out to Ugandan adoptive families--let me know if you have any ideas on the best ways we can do that. :)