The other day, the girls and I met a friend and her daughter at a big playground in the area. C is obviously too small to leave alone to climb around. (OK, ok... she's far too brave and mischievous to let alone). So I made the conscious decision to let Bean play on her own for the first time. I've been trying hard to give her a little bit of independence. I told her that as long as she played where I could see her and she could see me, she could do as she pleased.
I don't think 15 seconds passed before she had made friends with a rowdy little bunch of kids around her age and scrambled the playground playing hide and seek with them. I caught up with her a few times only to be breathlessly told that she had to get going to be the hider for the current game.
A mom complimented me on her manners and then grinned as she told me about how Bean had gathered up her rag-tag bunch, (many who were a smidge older), and organized the hide-and-seek game.
Ah, my little first-born boss.
A bit later, C was on a bench eating (again), when I heard Bean burst into tears. I handed C to my friend and ran across the playground where I caught up with my very hot, sweaty, and very sad girl.
I asked her what happened. "Some big kids hurt my feelings and made me sad!"
Somehow, she lost interest in the lengthy game of hide-and-seek and decided to join in on a group of older kids playing house only to be neatly rebuffed that she couldn't play with them because she wasn't big enough.
"But Mama! I'm a big girl!" She sobbed as I rubbed her shoulders and assured her that yes, she was big.
I wanted to find the group of kids and show them big. (Even if it was big around instead of very tall). No one makes my girl cry like that.
But I didn't. I hugged my very sweet, very small, (but very big), three year old and reminded her that she had made some lovely friends who were quite nice and who were happy to play with her. And I tried to mend my own heart as well.
Bean eventually calmed down and after a minute, peered up at me,
"Can I find those big kids and show them to you so you can see?"
I let her lead me around for awhile, but we didn't find them. All the better. I wouldn't have said anything. But it healed me a bit to know that she still knew I would protect her whenever she asked. And that's not going to change for a long, long time.