Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Intelligent Toddler

I spent my morning as a substitute teacher at the preschool.  I worked in the 2 year old classroom today, my normal assignment is as a lead teacher with 3's and 4's combined in an enrichment program, so working with the 2's is always eye opening.  Keep in mind, this is the beginning of the school year.  So we preschool teachers expect some tears, some tantrums, some bathroom issues, and some challenges in trying to get 16 barely verbal little beings to come for a simple circle time, try a craft, or dance to a song.

This morning did in fact start off with some tears.  I watched one mother tear herself away from her crying daughter with my assurance that everything would be fine, and remembered just how hard it was for me to leave one of my own children at that age if they were crying and upset.  The mom was wrestling with the voice inside telling her to grab her angel and run home-where everything is safe.  And yet, once the day started, the little girl stopped crying and even went on to have loads of fun.  She played in the house with a baby doll, dipped her fingers in the water table, and became thoroughly engrossed in a dinosaur puzzle.  It was joyful to watch her transformation from nervous and scared to trusting and curious.

This episode was such a metaphor for the struggles of parenting.  We all want to protect and comfort our children.  We want to be there for them as well as keep them close to us.  And some would say that in our current society we have forgotten the strength that comes from letting them go.  Letting them figure things out.  Letting them grow in confidence that they can do it.  I heard that refrain so many times this morning.  It is a phrase every 2 year old loves to exclaim.  "I Can Do It!".

Maybe, we as parents need to listen to them a bit more closely and remember this in all the years to come.  If we believe in our children and their competence, they will become competent.  If we shelter and protect them, and fix all of their challenges, they will become dependent. 

It was a wonderful morning, spent with darling, tiny, curious, talented, amazing children.  And their boundless energy, zest for life and laughter, and unbridled curiosity inspires me.


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