Parenting has by far been the most humbling experience of my life. I thought I had this – ECE training, Montessori training, years of teaching experience, positive discipline training, a regular mindfulness practice… the list goes one. I know all the “right” answers, I’ve read tons of books, can give great advice. And yet, I’ll humbly admit, I lose my patience, give in too often, turn the TV on, let the mess be, and resort to Mac n Cheese for dinner far more than I ever thought I would. Fellow parents have been relieved to hear that I share these struggles, despite my years of training and experience.
In part, it’s living the reality of parenthood. We all live it – strive for an ideal, and settle for “pretty close” or even “as close as we can get” to the ideal, day …by … day… Some days those days are long, as we need all the backup we can get, and some days, when we notice the years flying by, we take a pause in the day and get this gig right, or a little closer to the ideal we set. Am I right?
In part, it’s the diversity of the family. I came into parenthood with strong ideas and lots of knowledge of how to best serve children through their developmental stages. And so did Daddo, and those ideas don’t always align. Add in two sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and dear friends who we all love, and those influences aren’t always the ones we hoped for. Suddenly, my precious innocent child came home having watched Star Wars, got Spiderman for a gift, witnessed some sword fighting, and my hopes for a child uninfluenced by media and the violent games that surround us flew out the window.
We all live it, the influences beyond our control. The humble realization we can’t meet our own ideals all of the time. And then there is the reality that this child – our children – are their own beings. My fantasy of painting and doing puzzles with my children gave way to lots and lots of running, jumping, wrestling, marshmallow fights, and superhero play. In reflection, I’m so grateful for the diversity of influences that keep my children balanced, and ultimately ready for a diverse world. I’m deeply grateful for the lessons in humility I gain each day.
Through the long days, short tempers, thrown-together-dinners, and influences beyond my control, I still manage to remember enough guiding principles to feel good about parenting. Offering choices with consequences I can follow through with. Keeping the toys organized enough, grouped, and easy to put away, or clearing them out so there aren’t too many. Getting outside for as much free play as possible. Using kind and respectful language, modeling respect, and apologizing when I need to. Allowing the time he needs when I can spare it, rather than rushing them along on my agenda. Reading together. Loving. Loving… Nothing is more important than the loving.
Written by Susanne McGraw of the Evergreen class; she has been the head guide since 2014. Susanne works in our elementary program with students aged 6 to 9 years old.