Teaching, teaching, teaching. I am teaching all the time. Everything I do – everything I say, every move I make, every response I have to a situation – is teaching children how to respond to the world. Because they are watching me all the time so they can learn how to figure it all out.
Imagine being four years old in this world. Grownups run the place. There are invisible rules everywhere that you’re supposed to know, but you don’t, so you’re always getting yelled at. All you wanna do is play and have fun, and they’re always making you eat, bathe, sleep, go to the store, go to school, and a bunch of other boring stuff that you have no interest in. To top it all off, those grownups are completely crazy because one day they’re really nice and loving you, and the next they’re all cranky and yelling. And they yell at you while making you do all these things that you really don’t want to do.
What the hell?
So as a Child Care Professional, I am trying really hard to set a consistent example for my kids. And to show them how we should treat each other, and even if we do freak out and lose it occasionally, there are healthy ways to view what happened and make it better for everyone.
Not that I can really live up to that standard all the time. But the other day I had a teachable moment I was proud of. Miss S and I were having a disagreement about the Dora minivan. She said the purple dress mommy couldn’t fit in it to drive, only the yellow shorts one could. I said I was pretty sure purple dress could, but she insisted she was right. I said, “OK, that’s fine, we don’t believe the same thing. I guess you could say we have a difference of opinion.”
“Yep!” she said. She headed over to her art corner to do some business. I wondered if she was just finishing the conversation, or if she really understood the concept.
So I went over and asked her, “Miss S? Is it OK if we have a difference of opinion?”
“Yep!” she said, and kept on going with her project.
I could tell by her conviction that she did know exactly what we were talking about, and she had mastered the idea of disagreeing with other people. And if she can hold her own against me and be convinced that her thoughts are valid, her parents and I are teaching her right. We are giving her a vital skill, the self-confidence she’s going to need so desperately while finding her way through this world.
By the way, Miss S was right. Yellow shorts mama was driving that damn van around all day.