A couple weeks back we had a rainy day and we had new sleeves so we got dressed up and headed to our local nursery, Nick’s Garden Center, to pick out a couple new blooms for our front porch planters before hosting Arlo’s 2nd Birthday party at the house. Our red geraniums did great all summer, but we needed a spruce up.
Luckily, we found some lovely pink ball-like flowers and pansies, and they were 30% off, as it was the end of the season. Meanwhile, we took our time and strolled around and explored, as we like to do, and we discovered a neat Asian inspired statue garden and saw where they keep the trees around back.
As Remy is now nearly three and a half, and her friends are all seemingly starting pre-school programs, it has me thinking about teaching “lessons.” At this stage in parenting and motherhood, toddlers, I am finding it HARDER to get ready and somewhere, not easier. Sorry for those of you who are just now starting on number two. For me, I am finding that my girls are becoming MORE opinionated about EVERYTHING! Dressing included! Partially, I have myself to blame, as I have naturally always seemed to offer up choices. I only noticed I had done this when husband watched me get them ready recently and I had asked Arlo what she wanted to wear and she offered up, “tutu!” He thought I was crazy and said she was only two and I should just put clothes on her and that’s that. Perhaps he is right. One for style and fashion, this is becoming frustrating when for example I purchase a brand new pair of awesome pants for Remy and she refuses to put them on because she has deemed them too “boyish.”
The girls and I have had battles with getting dressed, and maybe I have nobody to blame but myself! Is offering up too many choices, suggesting to them that they have a “say” in what they put on, causing me more headaches in the end? Probably? Is it also making them opinionated, and determined and contributing to their strong-willed natures, most definitely. So, now, some days I ask Remy what she wants to wear and I let her begin the choosing. I guide her depending on weather and practicality, but some days, it’s good to let her choose. It’s good for her to feel empowered, as small as it may seem, in clothing.
But back to the classroom idea, and lessons. Daily. We ARE learning together. I am learning that my children are separate and independent from myself. They have ideas and personalities of their own. Some days I am proud of them, some days I am embarrassed, some days I am happy with them, some days I feel not like myself and tied down. I am learning lessons ten-fold. We may not be in a classroom, I ma y not have a degree in early-childhood education. I have no clue what Montessori “sorting” is. However, every day, sorting, counting, naming, speech, sharing, all of these formal “lessons,” come into question.
With a student body of TWO, we are able to have control over our snacks, peanuts, soy and gluten included. We are able to let the day, the weather, and our moods, lead us into an activity, whether that means staying in our pajamas and playing with Shopkins and trains, or getting dressed up and dragging along our shopping carts to troll the aisles of Safeway and spend three times as long getting bananas and milk. We discuss finances, how many dollars things costs, and learn values, the worth of a dollar and how hard Baba works for us to have so many dollars. When we eat our meals, we talk about how thankful we are to have them and we talk about not wasting a drop of food. When we see that giant blow up dinosaur on top of Colorado Ski & Golf as we drive past, it begins a conversation about fantasy and makes me wonder what that might look like to an innocent three year old. A mini conversation about advertising and promotion ensues, “a sale must be going on and they are attracting people.” Lessons.
Outside of a classroom, a plethora of lessons occur. Lessons about why we need naps because our tiny bodies are growing and our mind need rest too. Lessons on patience and waiting for mommy to get dinner prepared because there is only one mommy. Lessons are happening right in front of our noses everyday; lessons harder than naming animals, which we discover in books and trips to the zoo and taking walks around the neighborhood or through Petco just because. Lessons longer than singing ABC’s, lessons bigger than counting to ten in Spanish. I am not saying our classroom is more unique, or more exclusive, more prestigious than yours, but it’s special to us, unique to us, organic and ours.
We are doing this TOGETHER. We are learning and experiencing and LIVING life together. I am selfish, I am greedy, with their time, with their attention and love. I need it just as much, more than, their neediness and selfishness and dependency on me. Right now, I think, we are each others’ best and MOST valuable teacher. For now. Today. Someday I’ll be ready to pass that baton, but not now.