As I have admitted before the majority of my career has been spent with preschoolers with wee interludes of time spent with infants. I have spent very little time on the floor with toddlers.
So being the parent of a toddler has been an education. My daughter shows me time and time again just how capable young children are. She has had me awestruck many times since the day she was born. I must also admit though that my reactions are very different sometimes from the way I would of reacted as an educator of other’s children. This is not because my beliefs don’t transfer to parenting, it is more because of the fear of judgement. Interactions where I would of given the children space to negotiate it themselves, I sometimes feel myself jumping in to “fix” it for them. I do it begrudgingly too. I desperately want to see what happens next if I leave the children to negotiate it themselves but that fear of judgement from other parents is powerful.
Sometimes I am brave and I say something like “lets just give them a minute” or “lets just see what happens.” On those occasion the children show us that yes they can do it, they may just do it differently then we would of.
I am up visiting my family this week. Yesterday my sister asked if I would watch her son while she tried to paint some doors in her house. I was excited it would be great to have someone over for Helaina to play with. When Cason arrived, Helaina was still sleeping. So he and I played for a little while. When I heard Helaina awake I took Cason with me into her room to get her. The joy on each of their faces when they saw each other was awesome. They both decided they wanted to play outside on my parents deck. Helaina got her boots on and out we went.
On the deck is a favourite toy of all my nieces and nephew. A little yellow and red car for riding in. They both wanted it. Cason got in first. My parents weren’t home and I was by myself with the children. So I decided to take a step back and let them figure it out. Here is what I saw.
Helaina quietly and physically suggested maybe they could share it. (please remember these are only my assumptions I could be totally wrong.)
Cason and Helaina engaged in a very long but what appeared to be civil conversation about the car.
Helaina crouched down to Cason’s level to discuss the matter. (I privately would like to think this was my influence as I get down to the children and Helaina’s level when talking.)
It then appeared like Helaina was trying to explain “well if you just move over there we can both fit in.” Again it was all very civil at this point.
Cason got out and Helaina jumped in.
Cason didn’t seem okay with Helaina getting in. When I walked closer to them he would point and say something. I am imagining he is telling me “Auntie she is in my car.”
The funny thing about it was they played very differently in the car. Cason wanted to be in the car playing with the steering wheel and horn. Helaina wanted to get in and out of the car.
When Helaina got out the first time.
He said something to Helaina and crossed his arms across his chest. Helaina mirrored his stance and crossed hers. We had a stand off. They talked very seriously for quite a while. Arms in front of their chests. When Cason took a step closer to the car Helaina jumped in. Cason watched her for a while and then decided to find something else to play with.
Here is what I loved about this. They may not have a huge vocabulary of words but they were talking. I didn’t understand them but they seemed to understand each other. They spoke not only with their words but with their bodies. The communication was rich. Also this took place over a long period of time. They were quite happy to take their time to discuss this matter which we as adults don’t like to do. We want a quick fix. We need things to fit into a schedule. We don’t spend that long on negotiations in our day to day lives. We want to figure it out and move onto the next thing. I wonder if this is why we feel the need to “fix” things for our children.
The truth of course is I can only assume what was happening.
What do you see happening?