Sometimes a little advice can be a good thing. Other times, it’s a real headache. I’ve been thinking about the topic recently as my four-year old has appointed himself the advisor of my two-year-old. His recommendations are sometimes thinly-veiled orders, as in “I think you should follow me, Caroline!” Other times, his sage guidance reflects the perspective of someone who has been there. “Don’t give the dog your toast Caroline. Mommy will get mad.” But the most dangerous kind of advice, the kind that gives me a headache, is when he teaches my little girl how to do something I really wish she didn’t know how to do. For example, last week he taught her how to climb out of her crib.
“Put your foot here, Caroline!” William says, with great enthusiasm. “That’s good. You’re almost there! Put your other leg up.” I process the monologue through a drowsy cloud, dimly aware that William is in his sister’s room. I am more conscious of the fact that it is so early the windows are still dark. I am blithely unaware of what is to come. “Push over, Caroline! Put your feet there!” Cheering erupts from the bedroom across the hall. Caroline has successfully made it out of the crib. She’s free! Children run into our bedroom with wide smiles and clapping hands. I groan and put my face back into the pillow, knowing that bedtime was about to get complicated.
As suspected, Caroline didn’t need her advisor’s move-by-move instructions for very long. She quickly became adept at placing her feet high up on the crib’s edge and heaving herself back to land. Last night she reappeared upwards of eight times after her bedtime. I could hear William giggling in his room as I walked his sister, once again, back to her crib. Because herein lies the problem: the girl can get out of the bed, but she can’t get back into the bed. Why didn’t the advisor teach her that, I ask you?
This weekend we’re transitioning Caroline to a big-girl bed, and we will start giving her some advice of our own. “Once you’re in your room for the night, stay there.” I have a feeling our advice will not be greeted with cheers, unlike the advice of her brother. Still, on the whole, I’m glad my little girl has an advisor who, at only four years old, can help her achieve things beyond her wildest dreams.