Honestly, my fourth child practically raises herself

Posted in Family.

The other day my youngest daughter got sick and tired of waiting around for me to cut her apple up, so she went and did it herself. With a carving knife. At the bench, whilst standing on a chair that she pulled up to the kitchen bench. All by herself. At three-and-a-half years of age.

Last week I gave up battling her to let me properly wash her in the shower and I let her do it herself and you know what? She probably did a better, more thorough job than even my eight-year-old could manage.

There have been countless times she has brought me her toothbrush with toothpaste on it, ready for me to brush her teeth, packed her own water bottle inside my basket when we are dashing out the door and gotten her shoes on all by herself without me even asking than I care to count. Because doing so would probably make me look kinda bad.

I have a lot of kids …

It’s not that I’m a negligent parent, or that I’m forgetful. It’s just … I have a lot of kids. Well, four to be exact. Four girls. And do you know how many hair ties, dolls, pairs of shoes and general negotiation is involved in having four daughters? A whole helluva lot, let me tell you.

So I guess my youngest daughter – just gets sick of waiting around, and has realised that in order to get things done in a timely manner around here – she best do it herself. And she does a damn good job.

Jessica's fourth child being independent

In our house, it’s all about priorities

There’s only one of me, and even when my lovely husband is home that still only makes two parents against juggling the needs of four children. So, so many children.

And it’s all about monkey-see, monkey-do. My youngest daughter has observed her sisters and how they do things for many years now and her fierce independence is a bit beyond that of most typical three-year-olds. She knows what to do, she knows how to do it and she knows to get it done. There’s no telling her twice. And don’t even try telling her she can’t.

My job here is done

The other day I actually overheard her whilst sitting at the dinner table scarfing her food, tell one of her bigger sisters to “talk less, eat more!”

My job here is done. I’m literally not needed anymore. My three-year-old not only gets herself dressed quicker than all of her sisters, but she also disciplines them for me! I’m seriously winning at this whole parenting palaver.

As it turns out, six-year-olds are pretty needy. And eight-year-olds are pretty theatrical. And don’t even get me started on the moodiness that comes with 10.5-year-olds. So whilst her sisters are all tag-teaming my attention, demanding that their intense needs are met – my youngest daughter has figured that there’s minimal point waiting around for me to do things that she can do in half the time. Like chopping up an apple. With a carving knife. Or mopping up her own spills using my dressing gown. Or washing up her own favourite bowl to use in the sink.

Jessica Offer on the beach with her fourth child

Honestly, she’s practically raising herself

She even puts her dirty clothes into the laundry basket and regularly tells me off for interrupting games she is having with her imaginary friends. The hide of me!

Well-meaning observers often like to comment on my daughters when I am out and about with them alone. They will say I’ve got my “hands full” and they’ll tell me “good luck for when they’re teenagers”.

And you know what? Yeah, so they’re a handful. But maybe we won’t need luck. Not if we have my incredibly resourceful, independent and resilient little curly-haired wonder running the show. I reckon she will be able to whip her sisters into line without any problems, and that makes me feel super proud.


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