The Six Scariest Words a Child Can Say

The Six Scariest Words a Child Can Say

CRASH! I stood up from the couch, tilted my head just enough to hear into the depths of kid*palooza, and then held my breath when I heard my son holler, I can do it by myself!

I can do it by myself. There was a sweet time when those were the most glorious words my son could say to me outside of please and I love you. He would try to yank the lid off the Play-Doh container and when I went to swoop in and help him, he would look up at me with those big determined eyes and say, "Mama, I can do it by myself!" Okay dear, I would reply. And I would proudly watch him while he was busy building grit and character.

The Six Scariest Words a Child Can Say

But now, those six little words have the power to freeze me in place while I contemplate what level of catastrophe my son is about to impose on this house and me. Encouraging his burgeoning independence is a priority around here, but it comes with a heavy and messy price. The child loves to explore and get into trouble. By four he has already tagged the living room heater with a fat Sharpie marker, broken the same window twice, and has lost two toothbrushes down the bathroom sink.

At bath time he wants to fill the tub and pour in the bath bubble liquid by himself. So this means I should put bubble liquid on the shopping list because the kid just emptied the brand new bottle. He missed the tub and created a glycerin pool on the wood floor.

At bedtime he wants to clean his room by himself, which means that all of his toys and that day’s dirty clothes will get forcibly shoved out of reach under his bed.

During art time he wants to practice stamping his name with the fun letter stamps. So he opens and dumps out all 250 little tiny stamps onto the table in one tremendous pile. Putting them away by himself means flinging them around the house with an improvised slingshot he made out of my hair elastics.

At dinnertime he wants to help feed the baby by himself. With great caution and two parents ready to pounce, we let him try to convince the baby to use a Sippy cup. My son manages to get milk and the pureed food that I could have sworn was out of reach all over the baby’s face and arms…and walls. They both break into wild fits of giggling.

Every night after my husband and I negotiate our way through the cold war that is bedtime, I pour myself a glass of wine in order to fuel my evening scavenger hunt for missing art supplies and toys that have been flung, thrown, shoved, and hidden throughout the house. I go through this ridiculous routine every day because as much as I don’t enjoy the mountain of clutter that I have to organize and repair, I do relish the simple fact that my kid is learning how to navigate the world on his own terms. He is surely building grit and character.

I can do it by myself. Indeed, little wonder...indeed.

Related Posts

Supernanny's 100th Episode: How the Nannynatrix Show Scarred Me

Recently Suppernanny aired its 100th episode. The show got its start in the U.K. in 2004, the year my daughter was born. It hit the U.S. the following year, and I quickly became an addict. To my detriment.   Read more >

Play Time: The Fine Art of Ignoring Your Children

We had dinner at our friend’s house a few weeks ago. Half-way through the evening, one of the other dinner guests complimented our children. She asked what our secret was to having such well-behaved kids who were so content simply playing together, rather than bickering and running upstairs every five minutes like the other kids there. We just smiled and said thank you, beaming inside and exchanging proud glances. But, there is actually a secret and I’m going to share it with all of you right now: We ignore our children. And they are better for it.   Read more >

Low-Income Soccer Snacks

I knew what he was thinking. I knew he couldn’t believe I was spending food stamps on soccer snacks. Believe me, I could think of so many better ways to spend those precious food stamps. Milk. Eggs. Bread. Cereal. Not Gatorade and cookies and little packages of Wheat Thins. It killed me to spend that much of my family’s food money for the month on an entire soccer team. And how would the team feel if they knew that the food their kids would be eating was bought with state money? Would they treat it as if the food were tainted, as if I were poisoning their kids with poor people food?   Read more >


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.