We've recently crossed a border into uncharted territory. As Ryan has entered toddlerhood, we've gone from the land of looking out for his well-being to the land of parenting—or rather the land of teaching him right from wrong, and forming his mind and his heart so he understands appropriate behavior.
Ryan is a curious, courageous little boy, and I don't think I've ever been so emotionally and physically tested as I have over the month or so. His strong identity, combined with his quick, little body, makes for a very active child. This means that we have to constantly be aware of his actions, and we have to constantly choose whether each behavior is a time to compromise demands or guide him to a better behavior.
I guess you could say that up until this point we’ve had it easy. Of course, we had to feed him, make sure he’s getting sleep, dress him and entertain him, but these were all pretty basic responsibilities—and responsibilities that were somewhat controllable. Now that Ryan is no longer an infant, he knows what’s going on, and he’s quickly learning what’s ok and what’s not ok. This means that our responsibilities have graduated from fulfilling basic needs to teaching and training.
Teaching that it's not ok to pull or hit the flowers, but it is ok to smell them. Teaching that it's ok to hug and kiss, but it's not ok to bite or pull hair. Teaching that it's not ok to throw toys or silverware, but it is ok to throw balls, sometimes (this one is tough, especially since he has his dad's pitcher's arm and spirit). Teaching that it's ok to climb the stairs if he holds onto something or it's ok to get off furniture feet first, not head first. The list could go on and on, but most of all, it has been amazing for me to discover how satisfying it is when Ryan picks up on the things we are teaching him. Now my biggest challenge is to remember to take all of this one day at a time ;)