Like many parents I’m sure, I struggle to not get ahead of myself with worry and fret about what’s next for my kids.
For me it’s not about anticipating what they’ll learn next- I have no problem seeing them take in new experiences one day at a time, especially here in our new home. I really do relish seeing them squeal with pure delight at something, oftentimes, ironically, oblivious to the fact that it is something new and broadening for them; it’s these more organic, more spontaneous, more personalized experiences that really fuel me as a mom. To suggest that they’re unintentional experiences, however, is entirely inaccurate, given my tendency to plan and plod, and methodically and very intentionally craft these… It’s still in my control, and still with my vision guiding it. And that all settles me.
Instead, I have a hard time not worrying about whether or not I’m preparing them and me for their academic and their formalized ‘skills’ development like music, swimming, soccer, chess club, banjo interpretive dance theatre class, and mandarin literature study, architecture analysis lecture hall… Or whatever.
I worry about the disservice I’m doing in not having them enrolled, enlisted, engaged in all of these formal programs, wondering what lessons they’re not learning, what confidence they’re not gaining; what damage I’m doing to them.
Logically I know that they’re good. They’re happy, they’re sweet, they’re kind, and they’re learning. I think back to all of the formal and informal learning that my parents guided us through. Lessons and teams and groups. But also many special lessons that happened through focused, respectful, and timely interactions between parent and child.
I realize how much we’re exposing them to with this experience here in NYC, and I realize too that parenting is fluid and evolving, and news flash, we can make changes to what we’re doing with them…
Just when I worry about how I’m letting them down and am convinced that I’m raising two self-absorbed, unaware, little brats, N looks at me while at Rockefeller Plaza the other day, eyes bright with delight, hands flickering with excitement and pronounces that she has the BEST idea for Daddy’s birthday. She describes with very intentional detail the full day, connecting everything to the thread of making her Dad’s day ‘very special’. And then E announces today that he ‘loves me very much this Tuesday.’
There are days when I’m sure I am breaking them, and other days where something is sinking in and they’re growing into socially conscious, kind little turds. Who are also learning the days of the week and the geography of the city.