A few weeks ago, as I made us frozen dumplings for lunch, she asked me, “And after we eat, maybe you want to read some Baby-Sitters Club with me before math?” I gently explained that while she is always welcome to ask me to do things with her, I am already giving her a lot of my time and energy, and I need to save some of that for myself. She listened, furrowed her brow, and nodded. I sensed her disappointment, but also her resiliency and desire to understand. Right now, clarifying our boundaries can seem awkward and selfish, but how else can we preserve our sanity and cultivate independence in our children?
Lately, my daughter opts to read alone in a little nook under the stairs decorated with her drawings, trinkets, and a tiny LED lamp. The rest of our family is blocked from entry by a kind-looking but firm sentinel: an oversized stuffed unicorn. The other day, I passed the bathroom and found her on the toilet. I asked if she needed anything—a magazine, the light turned on. “No,” she replied, before asking me to close the door. “Maybe just a little privacy.” – ANGELA GARBES