That Elusive Just-Right

Sophie at 3

She’s growing up so fast.

Tonight, at a party, Ben & I actually both got to talk to the adults in the room, while Sophie happily followed around the one other kid so independently that sometimes we didn’t even know where she was. The other kid was 7. They played chase and they played piano and they ran in & out of the house, eating ice-cream supplied by the other kids’ mom. I actually felt independent, able to hold my own conversation, instead of constantly interrupting the adults to care for my child. It was pleasant to see how much she has grown, how quickly.

But then I watched Sophie teetering over steep walls in the garden, maneuvering by thorny plants in the near-dark, trying to keep up with the 7-year-old who was teasingly running away from her. I reached out a hand to help Sophie with a tricky step, and Sophie calmly told me she wanted to do it herself. I let her, of course, but within five minutes I had scooped Sophie up so she could fall asleep on my shoulder. Sophie’s bedtime had passed. She was crashing from eating a dinner of nothing but crackers and ice-cream and cake. Those are the only party-foods she likes, and we hadn’t been close by her side to push healthier options on her.

Ben told me I was being over-protective when I reached out to keep Sophie from falling. If anything, I might have labelled me under-protective. It’s such a thin line, as a parent, and if we ever reach that elusive just-right, we never seem to acknowledge it.


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