Maybe it’s just her personality. Or my idle parenting philosophy. Or both. Whatever the reason, my E. loves her alone-ness just as much as she likes to spend time with me. When she was just a tot and J. was deployed, I’d bring her to my room when she woke up and shut the door and let her play while I rested for a while longer. She’d scribble on some paper. Talk to herself. Read her books. Sing. Scribble some more. She’s always been able to entertain herself. And now that she’s a little older, that translates into lots of story-telling–between her Barbies, between two sticks, between her feet–whatever props are available–but always for the benefit of no one but herself. She loves it if you tune in, but she’s just as happy to be alone in her own world. There was a time when I worried about that a little. Am I paying enough attention to her? Does she feel loved? Should I be doing more with her? Basically, Am I screwing up my child?
I still worry about that a little, but for the most part I’ve come to appreciate it. After all, I was very similar growing up. I always had my nose in a book, or in a craft, or some other project, be it alphabetizing my books or rearranging my room or planning assignments – yes, assignments – for my little sister.
I think its a healthy skill to be able to be alone in our own company sometimes. To tune out the clutter and noise and busy-ness, retreat to ourselves, and just be – creative, at peace, in prayer, or contemplation – whatever we need. Solitude can take on so many forms. I think of sewing, rock climbing, thrifting, jogging, blogging, or in my daughter’s case: a moment on the porch with a Cinderella figurine.
I hope she’ll always be this happy by herself. She’ll need to be. Right now I govern most moments of her day with routines and guidance and Hello Kitty bandaids and kisses. But there will come a time when I can’t quiet the noise for her–that rattling of things and people and tasks, expectations and even heartbreak. When I can’t do it for her, I hope she can do it for herself. With a little time by herself.