Today I gave my friend's neighbor's soon-to-be 10 year old daughter a baseball glove and baseball. I had walked next door to invite her mom to go shopping at Goodwill with me. She was busy but her daughter wanted to get out of the house, so I loaded up Forest my 6 month old, Gwyneth my 4 year old daughter and Savannah (the almost-10 yr old neighbor) and we wandered around Goodwill in the toy section. I also bought her a Subway sandwich, soda and cookie. While at Subway we talked about spirituality (!) - Savannah initiated that conversation. She described herself as a pagan, a buddhist and a pantheist. She's in 4th grade. Also, she wants to be a "social scientist" - I asked her anthropologist or sociologist, she said anthropology. I said that I bet she's really good in school.
I gave Gwyneth a ball (the same pink rubber bouncy ball that Savannah got), and took her (Gwyneth) to the park. I taught Gwyneth how to cut her own hamburger using kiddo utensils. Every time I teach her how to do something on her own, I consider this a gift (of self-reliance). She really loves to do things on her own, so I try to work it in whenever I can. Today I had her put pillowcases on by herself (she specifically asked to do this).
I also taught her how to draw trees, and to continue practicing drawing even though it was difficult for her. She'd been drawing quietly on paper plates then suddenly burst into tears saying, "It's just no use, it's just no use!". I said, "You sound frustrated", and she said her trees weren't as good as mine. I told her I'd been drawing trees for about 35 years longer than her, I'd had a lot more time to practice, and would she like me to help her with how I draw trees? She said yes and we practiced drawing two curved lines from the bottom of the page to the top. I told her branches were like mini-trees, and then she drew circles for leaves. The result was colorful and beautiful. I'm so proud of her for practicing something she thought she couldn't do. I'm so grateful for the parenting books that taught me how to talk to her.