My four-year-old daughter has never given enough craps about societal expectations to bother putting on coats. Or wearing underwear. Or wearing shoes. Or bathing. Or wearing socks. Or brushing her ratty, tangled hair.
She doesn’t care.
And when her foster sister isn’t home, she strips down completely naked to spend the day climbing on furniture and eating blackberries in the comfort of her own skin. Everything itches her. Everything is too tight. Anything made in a factory by people who hope for you to clothe your body is just not something she wants to partake in.
Obviously, when it comes to her safety, I draw a line in the sand and tell her no. But I think my line in the sand with her is often much further than anyone else’s line in the sand with their preschoolers.
You see, if I don’t allow her to climb all day, she’ll feel angry and pent up all day. And then she’ll act on those feelings, and then she’ll get in trouble. She has to use her body to feel calm.
If I make her comb her curly hair every day, she’ll get overwhelmed by how much it hurts her sensitive scalp, and her behavior will be affected.
If I make her wear a coat when she literally doesn’t care that it’s 35 degrees outside, she’ll itch and sweat and fight me every step of the way.
Same thing with underwear. She hates them most days. Some days, she’ll wear the stretchy ones with no elastic, but the vast majority of her days are spent underwearless. She just can’t handle the feeling.
She’s not (usually) trying to be defiant or demanding. She’s just trying to live her life in the way that’s most comfortable.
And to her, living in the woods as a female Mowgli would apparently be comfortable.
I do want her to stay alive, though, so we don’t actually let her go into the woods. Our Mowgli lives indoors with us, but she spends as much time running around the yard with her dogs as possible.
The hard part about her animal instincts (ha!) is that people often think she’s being wild. I mean, obviously she is, but they think she’s being TOO wild.
Or when she gets stitches, they think I’ve let it happen.
Or when she breaks her arm.
Or gets a staple in her head.
Or gets a concussion.
Yes, all of those things have happened to her in four years of life.
The strange thing is that every time she’s ended up with an emergency-room injury, it’s because she was doing something completely ordinary.
Plays with a medicine ball at a friend’s house. Gets a concussion.
Jumps down the hallway with her sister. Gets stitches in her face.
Rolls off the edge of a low-sitting chair. Dislocates and fractures her arm.
Plays with her uncle near a coffee table. Gets a staple in her head.
Yet, she can climb a tree without injury. She can do gymnastics every week without a single concern. She can run, jump, scale, and flip over our furniture without me worrying an ounce.
How is that possible?
I don’t know. I’ll probably never understand how her little life functions, but I do know that she was created with this spirit for a reason. She was meant to do something that takes courage!
I can’t wait to see where this ferocity takes her.
If you’d like to see where it takes her, too, you should probably stop focusing quite so much on how much her wildness doesn’t fit into your societal box.