At the beginning of the summer, we bought O a pair of purple Saltwaters. She loved them on sight. She wore them out of the store. Every day that she has worn shoes this summer, she has worn these shiny purple leather sandals. For those of you unfamiliar with Saltwater Sandals, and you shouldn't be because they are the best, they have an old-fashioned buckle around the ankle, the kind with the little metal frame and the little metal post, like the world's tiniest belt buckle. O very quickly realized she could slip the ankle strap of her new favorite purple shoes over her heel, thus removing them independently. About two weeks ago, after a frustrated ten minutes, she managed to undo the buckles independently, once the shoes were already off of her foot. Her current battle is the refastening of that tricky buckle with the strap around her ankle.
As I stand there, breathing deeply, trying to remember that the important thing is not how fast we can get to the grocery store, but rather her sense of accomplishment at completing this task, coaching her through the buckle's trickery, I hear myself saying, "That's it. One step at a time. Thread the strap through, before you put the post in the hole," on a loop, as calm as I can manage. My inside-self is cursing whoever created this buckle and placed it on the outside of this tiny shoe, in a place nearly impossible for preschool-level fine-motor skills to manage. My inside-self is leaping and jumping and my fingers are itching to take the shoe from her hand and cram the sandal on her foot myself, but somehow, hearing myself say, "one step at a time," has begun to resonate. Sometimes she buckles them, and sometimes she doesn't.
I'm trying to slow down, for them and for me. I am trying not to rush them through their steps, to give them the space and the grace to take them one at a time, on their own terms, at their own pace.
I am learning the value of focus and patience in my own work. I am trying to tackle the thing that is in front of me with as much focus and determination as O has for that tiny purple shoe, one step at a time.