On Saturday, my baby girl turns 15. That and singing time songs with assisted living residents has the song “Turn Around” running through my head. I had a difficult time settling on a version to share settling on the commercial version many will remember:
It is amazing all the things motherhood has allowed me to experience – most pleasant, a few not so pleasant. It seems that many of my Twitter and Facebook friends that are new moms have shared insights into their experiences so I thought I’d join the fray.
Through the years, the question of “where are you going?” has had many answer. When my daughter was a baby(and it was posed in hopes of catching her attention as she moved away from us) rarely did it elicit more than a giggle out of her. As a preschooler the answer was often “That way!” As a teen I rarely get to ask it as she runs out the door saying “Going to ____. See ya later.”
Watching my daughter grow has informed my work with preschoolers in the following ways:
Exploration: So long as it is safe for her, safe for those around her, and safe for the environment, explore away. Whether it is as simple as trying a different way to play a hand drum (a mallet vs. o hand vs an elbow) or as involved as rewriting the rules for “Chutes & Ladders”, so along as there is no harm, why not? Offering up this opportunity supports understanding, learning, and self worth.
Boundaries: We all need boundaries. We all test those boundaries from time to time. Having those is important. For example, I generally tell children to strike drum heads no harder than they would hit their head. Knock on wood, I’ve only had to remind a few of them a hand full of times about this rule. As my daughter as grown, she has questioned some boundaries. Sometimes that has lead to an expanding of them. Be open, listen, and observe.
Exposure: No, I don’t try to expose people to germs. I talking about exposing them to novelty, to other cultures, tastes, textures, smells, ways of looking at the world. Shortly after my daughter was born, we started reading to her. She has heard a range of musical styles and genres since before birth. Visiting art galleries, going kayaking, hiking, tasting new foods are but a few of the other activities we have shared with her. Not only does she get exposure, but we do, too. And, we all have developed interests along the way.
Allow for choices: This one is often difficult. As she has aged, the definition of a sweater has gone from “something you wear when your mother is cold” to “something you take when your mother is cold.” Safe, natural consequences can be such good teachers . It is often difficult to allow. We may review the pros and cons of choices with our daughter but allow her to make safe choices holding her to the commitment. (For example: being in the musical means having to miss the concert you wanted to attend because the times conflict.) In preschool groups I try to offer children options – “would you rather help me play goodbye or let mom”.
Seeing the blessings: It is easy in all the shuttling, laundry, meal prep to forget to just be present. No matter what a child’s strengths or abilities, they still are individuals who deserve our love and attention. In groups this is part of my greeting and sending them with song, in using their names whenever I can. As a parent, it is the alone time. While I was the oldest of many, it is those moments alone as a teen with my parents that stand out.
So, where are you going, Little Bit? Where ever it is, I know I will learn and experience from and with you. I look forward to what you next share with me about the world, yourself, and me. Thank you for being you! – Mom