In the unschooling community, there’s a great respect for children’s inner wisdom. This week, for me, has been filled with confirmation that I need to follow my kids’ lead more often and to value their life’s experiences and authentic reactions.
I love going to the park and often, when we’re waiting for kids to finish their dance, drama or singing classes, we wait at the park where we swing, skate, climb, run or just do gymnastics in the grass. Yesterday, Maddy and I were doing tricks and she said “Can you do a front flip?” I said “no, can you?” It didn’t look like she even had time to think about the answer, she just did it. When she was done, I clapped my hands and said “Oh my goodness, I didn’t know you could do that, wow” and to my surprise, she said “Neither did I, I just did it.” I said “have you ever done it before?” and she said “no, I just did it.” WOW. OK. SO I did it. I was amused at my inner dialog, wondering whether or not she had mentally talked herself into it or if it really was as simple as she’d made it sound. In the end, I took a deep breath, pictured myself doing it a few times and just DID it. She was so excited for me, which was sweet. It was easier than I thought it would be and we both spent the next few minutes perfecting our front flips. I just thought it was funny, though, that I tell people “just do it” all the time and here I was being “schooled” by my 7 year old. Thank you, Maddy.
Flipping, for the fun of it
Love and conflict aren’t opposites
When my kids fight with each other, I don’t always handle it well. Over the years, I’ve gotten better. By stepping back and letting them work it through, I notice they end up fighting less. By discussing anger management techniques and communication skills during peaceful times (rather than in the heat of the moment) we’ve all learned how to avoid conflict or resolve it quicker, finding win-win situations and making allowances for one another’s preferences sometimes. But sometimes, I fail. The other day, Gabriella and Madelyn were fighting and Gabriella lowered her voice to a scary tone and threatened Madelyn. I snapped and made my own voice scary and told her to get out of the room until she could communicate without being mean (Ironic and pathetic, I know) Gabriella left the room and Madelyn looked at me with the sweetest face and said “It’s OK, Mommy, she can talk to me that way. She just wants her Barbie back. We were working it out. I’m not giving it to her until she gives me my doll’s dress back. I planned it this way.” I felt about half an inch tall. I brought Gabriella back and apologized for sending her out, I apologized for using a mean voice and I explained that I am still learning how to handle things nicely and I get upset when I think someone is being mean. I should have asked if they wanted my help first. Then I thanked Maddy for helping me understand the situation.
Barbies in my house are almost never this dressed or this well-behaved
Forgive, forget and whistle while you work
My 2 year old LOVES to put her own laundry away. There are other household tasks she likes to do, too. She likes to scrub the kitchen table while I load the dishwasher, she loves to help push the clothes into the washing machine, she loves to help carry groceries in, she follows me around all day “helping.” Well the other day, I put her clothes into her drawer for her. She was so angry with me. She can’t reach her drawer, so when she puts her clothes away I have to lift her up (while she’s holding the folded clothes) and she puts them into the drawer. It seemed like more than I wanted to do at the moment. She was taking her shoes off and I didn’t feel like waiting until she was done, so I just put her clothes into her drawer. You would have thought I’d stabbed her with an ice pick. she grabbed her belly and screamed at me “You puttid my clothes away, I wanted to do it MYSELF.” Her little angry yell was adorable, her face was red and filled with tears. I snickered a little bit because she’s so tiny and so sweet and I loved that she was so passionate about it. I took the clothes OUT of the drawer and scooped her up to apologize (I really should have known better) Then, I helped her put her clothes away, like normal and she went on about her business, without the slightest sign of anger. Later on, she said “Mommy, I sorry I freaked out about my yaundry” and I apologized for putting it away. I really do love that she values her “work” and enjoys helping around the house. I have to remember that it’s ME who secretly wishes someone else would do the laundry, not her. I’m also proud of myself for not teaching her how to hate housework, when we clean, we sing and dance and have a very good time together. If I keep this up, she will gladly take over the responsibility one day. (not that I have any coercive ulterior motives, right)
Being in tune with my kids, communicating honestly and respecting their preferences and desires is a very important part of what goes on in our house. I am, by no means, perfect at this. Clearly, I screw up. We all screw up. But I guess we’ve been doing this long enough that we’ve established an open and constant dialog that they’ve mastered faster than I have. I will continue to be impressed and amazed by their pure love and sweet dispositions.
Great opportunity to discuss germs