Playdate day. You know how this goes, right? I might have an afternoon of intervention after intervention or I might be able to get through the dozens of emails as they play happily.
But it turns out to be one of those afternoons when I marvel at their growth and development and realize that I might, just might, be doing something right.
After some lunch they wander off and discover some balloons floating around some part of the house or another. All is fine and dandy until I hear a “pop” and a whining: “you stepped on my balloon!” This is followed with: “I’m sorry!” Good start, I think, but no guarantees that all is well and good and resolved in pre-school play land. I put down the drying I am doing in the kitchen and prepare to pounce. But I stop. And listen. And wait.
Darling daughter knows we have a drawer with a bag of balloons. Will the whining and crying commence? That she wants another balloon from the drawer?
“Here, we can share this one. We can play together.”
Not only did they problem solve together without prompting, they quickly came to a mutually agreeable solution. It was a proud Mommy moment. If only for the fact that I send her to a school which focuses on allowing the children to problem solve effectively. Because I’m the mommy; at the end of the day I’m more apt to yell and dictate because I’m tired and I’ve had it. I don’t know if I can necessarily take all the credit for that one.
…at the end of the day I’m more apt to yell and dictate because I’m tired and I’ve had it.
Fast forward to ten minutes to four. As I’m wrapping up the laundry and getting ready to introduce the “getting-of-friend-and-daughter-into-the car-to-drive-friend-home” portion of the afternoon I hear them say they need some paint. The drawer with balloons also has the plastic cutlery and paper bags. They have the bags out and want to use the utensils to paint on the bags. Sometimes such an activity involves about 10 minutes of interest so I was optimistic in our ability to still be out the door by 4:30. But paper bags and utensils and paint were soon all over the dining room table and they were immersed in creative activity. They used the spoon to scoop paint, the back of the spoon to spread, the forks and knifes to create patterns and spread some more. Their involvement was obvious, as were my feeble attempts to conclude the activity and move them out the door. I apologize to the friend’s mommy that she got home late, but I was just so impressed with their divergent thinking and wanted to encourage it that I got out more paints. This was my call, based on the priorities of the moment. This is something that I find very difficult to give up sometimes: my own timeline and vision of the way the day will go versus the emergent interests of others, and following them as they occur.
If our children are to become the leaders of their futures and problem solve for our world and earth, we need to encourage them to think in new and different ways. Clearly, we have not yet gotten it right and allowing their little brains to think in the new and emerging ways that present themselves – using the tools around them in ways other than those we label and dictate – is possibly part of the solution. It’s part of my own “stuff” to learn to get out of the way. The wonder of children is in the creative solutions that appear when we don’t place any restrictions on them.
This morning she says to me, “Mommy, put one hand on your baby and one hand on your heart. It will make the baby happy.”
I’m sure I screw up daily in the parenting department and maybe our children thrive as much despite us as because of us. But somewhere perhaps I’m getting something right and there’s hope that our children will lead us to a better future.