Peeper is two and three-quarters years old, but she is more emotionally mature than many adults I know. (Sorry, guys!)
Take, for example, the other day when I spilled something in the kitchen while Peeper was eating breakfast. I must have made some grumpy grunt, because she asked what was wrong. “I’m just frustrated,” I replied.
She slid off her booster seat and walked over to me. She wrapped her arms around my legs and planted a yogurt-covered kiss on my knee.
“It’s ok that you’re frustrated, Mommy,” she said. “Now do you feel better?”
How could I not?
I am repeatedly floored by how in touch with her emotions she is.
When she squeals while I blow bubbles, she says, “I’m screaming because I’m excited!”
When Kiwi cries because I’m cooking dinner instead of holding her, she pats her little sister on the head. “It’s ok, it’s ok. Mama is right here.”
When she’s nearing a meltdown, she sometimes runs to her room and lies down in bed. She’ll come out a few minutes later, tears still wet on her cheeks. “I took a deep breath and now I feel calmer,” she’ll say.
And when she came back from the lab after having her blood drawn the other day, she gave Finn a big hug. “Finn was worried about me,” she said.
Sure, she still occasionally boots Kiwi in the head, and she pushes friends often enough that I should probably have mom friends sign a liability waiver before they join us for a play date. But overall, Peeper is proving to be a sensitive, thoughtful and empathetic munchkin.
I’m proud that she can identify—and own—her feelings, even the “bad” ones. (Those are mighty air quotes, if you can’t tell.)
I am trying to teach her that it’s fine to be mad, frustrated, scared and sad. I sometimes have trouble figuring out what I’m feeling, especially with these emotions that society tells us—tells women in particular—should be glossed over, medicated or overcome.
So every time Peeper says, “I’m just feeling sad!” through her tears, and even asks for a hug, she is becoming the kind of strong, emotionally intuitive, confident person I had hoped. What’s more, being able to talk about her feelings develops her social skills, says this article.
Peeper working through her feelings sets an example for her little sister to emulate. And she sets an example for me—that I can be better at understanding my feelings and asking for what I need to feel better.
We could probably all follow this 2 3/4 year old’s example. But minus the whole kicking babies thing.