A Piper doesn’t like to conform. I love that about her, but it makes me worry the most. I want to license her free spirit, let Piper be Piper, but I can’t promise that the world will always accept her when she steers from the norm. I’m still learning how to parent a Piper. She’s still teaching me.
Last night at the dinner table when Piper was telling us about her day it was a series of frustrations with what she was supposed to be doing and how she wanted to do it differently. Public schools like conformity. There are lines, procedures, rules. The structure is firm for a good reason, but I’m not sure that the reason works for a kid like Piper. Don’t get me wrong, Piper follows them. I can count on my hand the number of times she’s gotten in trouble and it’s always been for socializing and dancing and singing when it wasn’t time to socialize, dance, and sing. She’s mastered the art of steering as far from the center as she can without landing in danger. “My day was good until this boy at my table started bossing me around,” she said, separating her beloved peppers from the carrots she loathes in her stir fry.
“What did he do, P?” Daddy asked.
“He kept leaning over the table and pointing to my picture. ‘You’re supposed to fill in the balloons’ he said. ‘You’re doing it wrong.’ Geez!”
“Was he trying to help you follow directions?” I asked.
“Who cares? I’m going to do it my way,” Piper said. “Do I have to eat the carrots?”
She knows the rules on this one. You have to eat a serving of vegetables. Which vegetables is up to you. This is how I’ve learned to balance Piper’s strong will with healthy choices. I pick my battles. Piper ate the asparagus and peppers with her tofu and udon noodles. “Can I have water instead of milk?” I gave her both and she drank both.
“I don’t know about this school stuff,” Piper said. “I think I’ll just be a shark when I grow up.”
“That sounds fun,” I said.
“But I won’t bite you, Mommy.”