Don’t let those cute eyes fool you, this girl is fierce. I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Don’t let those cute eyes fool you, this girl is fierce. I wouldn’t have it any other way. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson Column: Confidence: Give kids an inch, they’ll take a mile

My four-year-old daughter is now proud to fix her own Rice Krispies

This week I’ve been suffering with a rare bout of torticollis. It’s essentially a particularly constant and painful neck spasm that has rendered me pretty useless around the house.

I can’t turn my head to the left without significant pain so when I’m not nuzzling up to a heating pad, I’ve been wandering around the house like a well-aged string of licorice: quite stiff on one end, but still rather nimble on the other.

I first thought it came about because some days it feels like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders but I later realized it was probably that ill-advised sleepover with my children and the fact they almost pushed me out of my own bed with their sprawly and entitled sleep positions. If you ever want a sore neck or back, have a sleepover with a small child.

I actually think I remember my doctor saying once you’ve had it, you’re more susceptible to it in the future.

This is my third time in four years. It really is more petulant than anything. It only lasts a week or so. If this is what I am periodically afflicted with, I consider myself far better off than many others.

The first time I got torticollis was when my daughter was less than a year old. I had to call my mom over from the Mainland to help around the house because I couldn’t move and the medication they put me on knocked me out. I had two children two years old and under and a husband working more than full time to support our family. We needed the help.

The second time wasn’t too noteworthy but this time has been pretty uncomfortable. With no mommy to bring in for help (thanks a lot COVID-19), we’ve been managing well.

My husband has picked up the slack and it turns out, my kids are pretty self sufficient when pressed.

Would you believe they are able to dress themselves without being chased around the house?

Did you know they can brush their teeth independently, without having their prepped toothbrushes thrust into their hands every single time by a frustrated parent explaining the importance of dental hygiene? I did not.

Because I’ve gone from being everybody’s everything to a blob on the chair who every now and then exhales loudly like I’m having a contraction or something, things have changed around the house.

There’s more laundry than usual; I’m sending my son to school in pants without pockets — a mortal sin if you ask him, but he’s adapting.

I stole a trick from my mom that she used when raising my sister and me. She’d prep our cereal bowls the night before and put a little container of milk in the fridge that was just enough to dump into the bowl.

Voila! My four-year-old daughter is now proud to fix her own Rice Krispies and grab a banana in the morning. Breakfast complete! Ever the cook, she’s been helping me more in the kitchen, too. An unanticipated complication, however, is her confidence in this new-found independence.

I’m not sure if you know, but when Lexi Bainas retired, I took over writing her Lake Cowichan Flashback history column for the Lake Cowichan Gazette. It’s essentially a look back at life around the lake 10, 25, and 40 years ago based on the news of the time. To get those glimpses into the past, periodically I run out to the Kaatza Station Museum and photograph a pile of old newspapers from which to draw my information.

I was running out of photographs, so this week I needed to tackle that photo task. Not being able to turn my head, I enlisted my husband’s help. He drove me to the museum and lifted the boxes of the old papers off the archive shelves and helped me photograph them.

My son was at school but our daughter was with us. She got bored.

She whined and complained as we explained how cool it was to be in a room with newspapers that were 100 years old! We told her how cool it was that some of the boxes contained papers with our names, too! We were part of recording what my husband called “history’s first draft”.

She wasn’t impressed. As we finished and put the boxes back on the shelves, my daughter spotted an exit door along a far wall. It wasn’t the door we entered by and wasn’t the door from which we intended to leave.

My daughter had other ideas. She stood her ground. So did we. We advanced around the corner and into the hallway, leaving her in the room alone.

“She’ll give in and come running if she can’t see us,” I said.

We heard no pitter-patter of her tiny feet and looked around the corner to see an empty room and the exit door on the far wall wide-open.

She’d escaped!

My husband trailed her while I went out the way we came.

My confident child had left the rear of the building and made her way around to the front and to the car all the way giggling under her little paw-print mask.

We weren’t sure if we should applaud her for her independence or chastise her for her insubordination.

If I’m honest, we did a little bit of both.

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