Tag Archives: connection

Fake it till I make it

InstagramCapture_54d78944-37eb-41d8-b17a-296a53177b9e_jpgAt the beginning of this preschool year our class was inundated with babies. There were babies everywhere. Little wee babies only weeks old, smiling cooing babies, and almost toddler babies. We had families who were defining new normal for themselves now becoming families of two or three. We even had a couple of families who were adopting preschool children and becoming parents for the first time. It was an exciting time in the preschool. I myself had a little secret of my own I was 15 weeks pregnant expecting a baby in the New Year. It just seemed like a perfect time to have a gaggle of babies and new families surrounding me.

635601429133700103In early February I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. He was preterm but perfect. Small yes but ready for this world. So ready he was out in 13 minutes flat. We were now a family of four and going home to define a new normal for ourselves. My daughter was a big sister and my partner and I were now parents of two. A little adjustment period was to be expected.

What I didn’t expect though and what shook me to my core was an absolute feeling of disconnect. I absolutely did not feel connected to my baby. This feeling of disconnect lead to feelings of guilt, sadness and shame. My partner adjusted to having two children so smoothly he was so in love with his family and children. I did not want to burden him with my shame. My baby gained weight slowly and the midwives were concerned. I was fearful of telling them how I was feeling, scared they would blame this disconnect on his inability to gain weight quickly or latch properly. So quietly on my own I decided to fake it till I made it. I put my best parenting foot forward. To the outside world I was a good mom, I snuggled my baby, I smiled and I griped about lack of sleep. Inside I felt like I was dying. How could I not have a connection with my own child? I connect with other people children every day.

I was also overtaken with anxiety. I was constantly worried my baby would get hurt and that it would be my fault. So I tried not to be alone with him often. I was thankful for sharing circles with colleagues, preschool pick up for my daughter and family functions.

Struggling hurts, struggling alone is soul crushing. Two things saved me. At eight weeks the health nurse called. I found a quiet room in our house I locked the door and I told her everything. I cannot thank her enough for listening, letting me say a hard truth and all the follow up phone calls and appointments.

The other thing that saved me happened at pick up for preschool for my daughter.  Morgan one of her wonderful educators came and checked in with me. She said to me “Just so you know we haven’t brought up baby with Helaina. We are waiting for her to talk about him. We are just focusing on her right now and she is doing great.” I cannot tell you how much those words meant to me. They were exactly what I needed to hear. Two wonderful caring educators were looking out for my daughter every morning and focusing on her. Which gave me permission to just focus on my baby.

Ten weeks have passed since that time and I am absolutely in love with my baby. I can’t wait to see his smiles in the morning. He is the happiest little man a parent could ask for. He gains weight like a champ so much so that he is already at four months of age wearing 12 month old clothing. The health nurse informed me on our last visit that he was in the 90th percentile for head circumference, length and weight. So in her words “He is a big baby but he is proportionately big.” I feel absolutely connected to both of my children.InstagramCapture_087684b2-76b5-4623-b048-8d3d6aa641de_jpgI can’t help but think about all those babies in September, all those families defining a new normal for themselves and I wonder were any of them faking it till they made it? If they were I hope we said or did something to help.

If you are struggling with  postpartum depression or anxiety please don’t fake it till you make it. Seek help. Talk to your midwife, doctor and/or health nurse.

 

Chanting and Banging and Shouting

IMG_1658 copySing along….you know the tune…..

 

A B C D E F G

Gummy bears are good to be

One is yellow, one is red,

One is blue and one is dead

A B C D E F G

Gummy bears are good to be

 

Not lyrics I’m familiar with but to the 4 girls I who were singing it was very familiar. They were sitting outside a coffee shop, swinging their legs and singing. And singing. They sang it about 10 times that I heard, continuing to sing as they walked so that their voices reverberated throughout the street.

I lingered in my walking so I could listen and it made me smile.  The song was silly to be sure, but there was great joy in the voices, I perceived the warmth of friendship, of sharing, of belting out a song communally.

As I walked away I thought about how children seem drawn to communal sound making, or as one sound artist put it, organized noise. How spontaneous chanting can erupt at a snack table, how a chorus of spoon banging can ignite in a second, how one happy shouted phrase can spark a cacophony of shouted phrases.

I thought about how we adults really don’t like the spoon banging and the shouting, how we are tolerant of the chants but usually only when we deem it appropriate.  I thought about how children seem to love the spoon banging and the shouting, that it seems to always be appropriate, no matter the time or the place.

I continued on my walk with the ABC refrain running through my mind, thinking I just might try joining in the chanting and banging and shouting next time. I might be missing out on something good.

 

Could You Just Stop Talking?

 

r6 copyWe in ECE are talkers. Yes I know I am making a big swath of a generalization and you can tell me I’m all wrong. But I think I’m right. We are talkers, we like to talk to everyone, big and small, we are story tellers, singers, and humourists. (Danielle and I are finding that ECE’s are wine drinkers as well, but that’s another post)

Don’t get me wrong, I love talking, just ask my husband. And I love working with ECE’s who love talking. We’re trained to talk, ask open ended questions, engage with children and parents, facilitate, negotiate, build relationships, all by talking.

But I think it’s time we thought about not talking. I think it’s time we stopped, looked and listened.

Yesterday an educator was telling me about bikes, a familiar story; lots of kids on lots of tricycles going fast in a fairly small area, a perfect opportunity for an ECE to caution, remind and offer rules of the road. But she didn’t do any of that, she just watched. And you know what happened? Nothing. No crashes. Nothing.

I’m in the pretend hospital, sitting on a small chair in the furthest corner. I’m watching a baby being born, nurses and doctors bustling about.

“Is it feeling good?”  Sara says “Your baby is in danger, your baby is in distress.” She then delivers the baby and hands it to Bria saying “Here she is, here is your baby.” Bria takes the baby, cradles her gently and says “I’m going to name her Cinderella”.

As I watch this scenario I bite my tongue…..over and over. I want to ask why is the baby in danger? What does it mean to be in distress? And why Cinderella?  But what would all those questions accomplish? Do the answers matter? And most importantly, would the conversation have continued if I had interrupted?

Listening to children, really listening, opens up their world to us, allows us a glimpse into how they may think, how they are interpreting what they see around them. We can get clues as to how they make sense of media, of what families and friends do. And we can be filled with wonder to see just how much children know, how they solve problems with great logic. And we can see that each child understands the logic of the other child, it is we who can’t quickly follow why the baby is named Cinderella.

What are we missing when we keep talking?

 

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We Never Really Know

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I know this amazing family who when they heard a baby needed adopting because his young parents were not able to care for him said “We will love him.”

It took almost a year before the foster system would allow them to bring him home due to cross province adoption policy. When they brought him home he was diagnosed with sensory processing and attachment disorders. He screamed at the parents and his new sister twenty four hours a day. It was challenging, weaker people would have buckled under the pressure but they said “we love him.”

The day before the adoption was to be put before the judge to be finalized, they were informed the adoption was being challenged.  For two and half years they agonized over the possibility of losing their son in private. Their son’s needs became more challenging as they agonized. Weaker people would have thrown in the towel but they said “He is our son and we love him.”

During the final months of their agony they had to attend a trial in which they heard testimony of their son’s tragic beginning. They heard stories of addiction, neglect and violence.  At the end of a trial that drained them emotionally, they found out they would have to agonize just a little bit longer as the judge wrote his ruling. The judge informed them at the beginning of December that he would have his ruling to them by January. The agony grew.

January came and went with no ruling. February came and went with no ruling. In the third week of March they received a call. “The judge will deliver his decision by 10:30 a.m. the next morning.”  At 11:37 the following morning they received an email informing them that he was their son.  I had the honour of being there when they found out he would be staying in their family. I knew this family was in agony. Living in fear every day of being torn apart but I did not know the depth of their agony until I saw the mother finally break down in tears. Tears that released the private agony she had been suffering for the last two and half years of her life.

It is an emotional story. Every time I think of that family I am filled with emotion and gratitude.  This is not the point of my story though.  This mother privately agonized. The whole family agonized in private. They took their children to preschool and didn’t utter a word. The parents stayed strong for their children and suffered privately. As Early Care and Learning professionals we never know what a family struggles with in private. 

I believe with that knowledge we are given choices. We can choose to connect with each and every person who walks through our doors.  We can choose to put our judgements aside. We can choose to care for the parents as well as the child.

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Musing on Play


My good friend Sarah and I had lunch today and as always we had a lively discussion about children, their interests, theories and competencies. We talked about play, what it is, what it is not, and what is our role as educators….we talked about values and how they influence what we do, and nuances, and relationships….(yes pretty much an entire 2 hours of conversation, ECE nerds or what?!)

 As I drove home I continued to muse, What IS play? What IS our role?

 In Reggio and elsewhere there is much talk of the pedagogy of listening, an idea, a hope, a way of being.  I began to wonder, how does the pedagogy of listening relate to play? What does it mean to us in our programs?

I think if we are listening to children (not just the words they say, but also to what they say without words) we will think differently. If we are listening we cannot tell them what to do in play. If we are listening we cannot create play spaces, decide on projects, create art areas and tell children what and how play in them. If we are listening, we will be doing ‘with’ rather than ‘for’.

The pedagogy of listening invites us, compels us, to be in a relationship with children, a relationship that embraces complexity, democracy and acceptance.

Listening… is a way of thinking and seeing ourselves in relationship with others and the world Carlina Rinaldi

So perhaps our role is about: “creating a context in which children’s curiosity, theories and research are legitimated and listened to, a context in which children feel comfortable and confident, and at the same time, to be able to widen and extend children’s horizons by creating complexity in the child’s environment and by introducing new theories, concepts, languages and materials, as tools for children’s theorizing and meaning making” (Dahlberg & Moss 2005 p. 103-104)

Thanks for the lunch conversation Sarah. Inspiring as usual.