Thursday, November 19, 2009

[tu peux]

What determines a good au pair?
Is it better to keep the kid happy at you all the time, or more so be firm and work on creating a independent, capable child.
Lately, a phrase I find myself saying often is, "tu peux" or "tu peux faire."
It literally means: You can.
The kiddo has been asking me to help her with many tasks lately. It's not that I'm not willing to help her, I enjoy helping out. It's not to make my life easier. In fact, it would often be so much easier and quicker if I did do it for her. But, I want her to do it herself. So she'll ask me to do something for her and I'll say, "No, you can do it," if she glares at me I'll tell her, "you're 7."
Here are a few instances in which my help has been requested. This is not speaking of her character or capabilities, she's a great kid and very capable, she just asks for help a lot and glares at me when I say no.
  • Can I tie her shoe?
  • Can I zip up her jacket? (I tend to help with this one)
  • Can I buckle her helmet? (again, it can be difficult)
  • Can I spread the soft cheese on her bread?

Today we went to English with the bikes. As we went to park them she handed me the lock to the bike so I could lock it. I looked at her and told her I knew she could do it. She said that, no, she couldn't do it. I said she could and I would help her through it. Sure enough, she was able to do it. She wasn't very happy with me, though. I could see it was a bit frustrating at times, for her, as she tried to figure the lock out, but she got it. A lot of things aren't easy without practice, it all comes in time. But if I don't have her start the practice now, she'll never reach the point where it's an easy task that comes naturally.

If anyone knows a better way to say, "You can do it," in French, I'd love to learn.

I think this may have partially come from my upbringing. My parents raised me pretty independently, I think. I wasn't all that old before they started telling me that if I wanted something I could walk, bike, or bus to get it. I wanted eggs to bake with that moment? Well, the store was just 20 minutes away. That's what they would tell me. At the age of 16 they allowed me to go off and explore Switzerland for a year on my own. They used to give me a budget so that, while I still had their financial support, I could learn to manage my money. So now, as I help to raise and take care of a kid, I find myself wanting to encourage them to do things themselves.

Am I simply being cruel?

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