As my children become more articulate, I find myself probing their psyches to be sure I haven’t ruined them yet. I figure that now that they have language, they should be able to tell me if they are suffering from low self-esteem or anxiety.
I’ve tried lots of different verbal tricks to test their mental health. (I am sure that having a mother who tests your mental health on a weekly basis is not going to have an adverse effect on them. Positive.)
None of my little “games” have afforded me any particular insight, until I thought of this one. Grab your pencils and bookmark this post.
Here’s how it went down:
Sadie and I were sitting on the couch reading a book. We had to stop every few pages to discuss the thematic elements of Don’t Let The Pidgeon Drive the Bus. Roughly 30 minutes and 6 pages into it, I asked her this question:
“Sadie, if I had a friend call me and ask me who was my daughter was, what should I say?”
She looked at me as if I had lost my damn head, but I kept a straight face. “Sadie!” She said, laughing as if it was a punchline. She was acing my test.
I continued, “If my friend asked me what is Sadie like? what would I tell her?”
Sadie thought for a second. “You should tell her about me.”
I stayed in my role, because the jackpot of insight was coming. “But what exactly should I tell her about you? How would I describe you?”
Sadie sat up on her knees and took up the challenge. “You should tell her that I have curly hair, that I have an office at home where I do my work, and that I really like myself, and that I am scared of dogs.”
* * *
couch armchair psychiatry, ya’ll, is that how she sees herself? If so, I am so tickled pink I’m thinking of moving to Peoria so I don’t screw her up. She likes herself? Praise all that is holy and shiny in this world.
I also love that she loves her “home office,” which is actually a window sill in our living room where she puts her books and has taped up her “very important” post-it notes on the window. No one is allowed to touch anything in her little corner. (I’m thinking it’s not quite time to tell her about Marissa Meyer’s no working from home thing.)
I will confess that flush from the joy of this conversation I tried this with Simon and every single answer to every single question was “Spiderman!” So I wouldn’t try this with a two-year old. (Actually, you’re probably too well-adjusted to try this at all!)