Sunday, March 25, 2012

I Too Little

 Ezra helping make bread

Out of the blue, Ezra has started discussing what he is and is not capable of accomplishing.  Taking off his shirt?  “I do it.  I’m big.”  Putting together that 20-piece puzzle?  “That puzzle hard.  I too little.” I was surprised by these declarations because they seemed to have started so unexpectedly, and I worried about his quickness to label something beyond his capacity. Why did he suddenly seem satisfied with easy surrender to a difficult task? I quickly realized his statements were both developmentally normal and common.  In fact, they are so common that the day Ezra deemed the puzzle beyond his capability, Amanda was visiting a daycare website that included a quote from a kid around Ezra’s age, “This is a hard puzzle and I'm just a little boy.”

As Ezra continues to become more self-aware, he is realizing the limitations that come with being 2 and a half years old. I find this difficult because as his parent I want to believe there are no limits to what he can achieve. As Ezra and I both accept reality, I realize my responsibility is to help him to discover what he is capable of accomplishing, and to encourage him to exceed what is expected, to challenge himself, and to not be discouraged by failure.

As Ezra learns his own limits, he also enjoys discovering and pointing out the limits of others.  Actually, he only does this to me.  For example, while helping him zip up his coat, the zipper jumped off its track.  Ezra quickly encouraged me to give up because, “you little.  Mom will do it.  She big.”  My incompetence seems to be a boost to his self-esteem.  Knowing he is not the only person who finds zippers challenging helps remind him that it is okay to need and ask for extra help.  It also provides him with the additional evidence for his repeated claim that, “I big. Mommy big. You little.”

At the same time, Ezra is also developing a more complex understanding of time.  Though his sense of the passage of time is not like that of an adult, he now places events in the past or the future.  The past to him is usually “last week” and the future “in two minutes,” but he does seem to understand that time moves forward and things change – including himself.  He remembers that “last week” he was not able to buckle his shoes, but now he can. Ezra is learning that who he is in the present is not who he will be in the future, and what he can’t do today may be easy to do tomorrow. Of course, I recognize this as well, and can’t help but feel this is one of bittersweet parts of parenting. With each passing moment I must say goodbye to the Ezra I know, as I eagerly meet a slightly more grown up Ezra “in two minutes.”