Monday, May 31, 2010

When Did I Get Wise?

The school year has ended. And it was a wonderful year. Every couple of years I have a class that is simply perfect. This was one of those years.

Why was it perfect? Maybe it was because I went back to school this year, and it was fun and exciting to test out my new theories and practices. Maybe it was because I knew the majority of my students since they were in utero, and therefore felt really connected to them. Maybe it was because we tried a new class format and it was an unqualified success. Who knows, but it was a great year.

This year, more so than in years past, the parents of my students looked to me more as a mentor as opposed to a peer. I am confused...when did that happen? I look at myself in the mirror, trying to figure out which wrinkle put me into the "Older and Wiser" and right out of the "Right There With You". I think it was this one on my forehead.

Parents start telling me about issues they are having with their kids at home, and expect me, the old and wise teacher, to have magical advice to make it all better. Yikes! That's a lot of pressure!

I look back to when my own children were in preschool. Their teachers were older than me, had older kids and had been teaching for years. I respected what they had to say and often sought
their advice. There advice and counseling was always along the lines of...enjoy your children...go with your know your child the best, do what you think is right...and, my favorite...they are three (or four, or five...).

I found these talks to be comforting and empowering. And I always took what these wise women said to heart, and found myself to be a better parent for having heeded what they said.

It is unnerving to find myself in that position of the older and wiser teacher; especially when I valued the input of the older and wiser teachers when my children were young. It is also unnerving to realize that my kids' preschool teachers were my age, in the same position I am now, and were simply offering advice they had learned from being parents themselves.

When my parents come to me, I offer the same nuggets that meant so much to me. And not because I don't have anything of my own to add, but because this advice is so true and right on target.

Enjoy your kids. Revel in this moment, right now. Because good or bad, your child will NEVER be this age again. Soak it all in, as much as you can, because even if they are driving you crazy, this issue too will be something you look back on fondly.

Always find the humor. Kids are funny and wonderful. Laugh at everything, because it is all great. And take lots of pictures. Because even though you are furious that your daughter colored with Sharpie all over the wall, and then all over herself, you will want to remember how darn cute she looked posing with her masterpiece.

This too shall pass. I remember when my son would not give up his diapers for anything. He was perfectly happy to sit in a disgusting diaper all day. I was about ready to start buying Depends, because he was getting too big for regular diapers. I was complaining about this to my daughter's preschool teacher, and she said, "Don't worry about it. He will get potty trained when he is ready. I have yet to meet a high schooler who wasn't potty trained." What great advice! The minute I quit stressing about it, my son started wearing underwear. And I was free to stress about the next issue - how to soothe my son's hurt feelings when he is told "You are not my friend."

Go with your gut. This is the best advice ever. You know your child better than anyone else. You know what is best, and you should always listen to what your gut is telling you - over what anyone else is saying.

Role of mentor? Still not comfortable with it. But when asked, I will give out advice designed to help you realize how totally awesome your little one is.

...going to apply my wrinkle cream....



1 comment:

becky w. said...

I LOVE that you have posted! I miss your posts. I love how you tell your preschool stories with so much awe and wonder at the children. And I have always loved how your wisdom shines through your writing. Yes, I have always considered you wise. Don't think of it as your age, just that you have been a parent a little longer so you must know better!