The girls & I have been on a Zelda kick lately. It's the sole video game that's encouraged at our house, because it's entertainment that can't be mindless. For those who haven't played, Zelda is famous for having lots of puzzles you have to figure out in order to progress (and also for being exasperating). I figure it teaches the kids patience and perseverance, and gets them thinking about looking at problems differently. Plus I'm a Zelda addict myself, and it's nice to see people I know at the meetings.
I'm not as generous with help as the kids would like. They want me to take over the second things look rough, but I refuse. "You've been working at that less than 2 minutes. Just try a little longer." They grumble, but keep at it. They stay grouchy with me right up until they get past the part they thought they couldn't beat and then they're all hopped up and full of themselves. I say, "See? I knew you could do it!" They roll their eyes at me, but I like to imagine that they're secretly grateful I make them fight their own battles after all.
When I first introduced Miss L to Zelda a few years ago, she asked for help as soon as there was anything that looked scary, wouldn't even attempt a bad guy on her own. Now she hardly ever asks. No longer looking for handouts, she's hooked on the high that comes from doing it herself. I've loved watching the slow shift from self-doubt to self-sufficiency. Her Zelda-pride has spread to other aspects of her life; she's been wearing new confidence in her abilities.
I've been worried about her moving next year; she's withdrawn and uncertain in new situations. She tells people what they want to hear, and submerges herself in the process. Keeping other people happy is more important to Miss L than keeping her own head above water. No matter how much we encourage her to be proud of who she is and stand up for herself, she will have to call upon the strength from within to change, and we can't do that for her.
So, Zelda gives me hope. Seeing Miss L all dogged and serious about busting that bad guy's ass is awesome. Watching her go forth fearlessly into that video game means there is one place she is going forth fearlessly. She's got it. It's in there. It's quiet, but it's fierce, and I pray to God I'm there to see the day she busts free.