Posts Tagged ‘ independence ’

Milestone Monday: Is Your Toddler Different At School?

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Is it a milestone to suddenly turn shy? To go from boisterous to bashful?

The other day I went to pick Fia up from preschool. I asked the director if she was the wildest one in her class. What she said made no sense to me.

“Fia? No, she’s probably the quietest one.”

Huh? Feral Fia? The one who never stops chatting at home? Who oozes personality and spunk? Who dances and climbs and twirls? Even the other day while we were sitting at dinner, she squeezed her eyes shut, put her hands in prayer position, and went into a yoga chant. Phil and I almost died laughing.

“Fia, where did you learn that?”

“From yoga at school!” she exclaimed.

I’ve seen her do downward dog and tree pose, but the chants blew me away. It was so damn funny.

The school situation has me baffled. They said that during free play, she usually just plays quietly with herself, reading books or coloring. During the structured activities she is with everyone else. But other times she’s kind of a loner.

They told me she often stands back and just watches the other kids; that she is an observer, not a participant. I don’t know why the thought of that breaks my heart, but it does. Is she shy? Scared? Not confident? This is a girl that for months couldn’t stop hugging every kid she met.

She’s 2 years and 7 months. Is this still the age of parallel play? Or is she insecure? This side of her is a mystery to me.

She only goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The teachers suggested we bump her up to 3 days in a row. Tue-Wed-Thur. Perhaps the repetition will make her more interactive with the other kids.

I have no doubt this is a great preschool. So it’s not that. Maybe my girl is just more subdued in unfamiliar situations? Or larger crowds? The other day our nanny had 6 kids over. Phil observed from his study that while all the other kids were running through the sprinklers, Fia just stood back and watched. She did that for 10 minutes. When she is one-on-one with a playdate, she is much more engaged. I’ve never seen her just stand back.

Should I tell our nanny and the school to pull her into the group more? Or is this something where you take a hands off approach and let her find her own way? Is going to preschool for 3 days in a row a wise choice, so it becomes more familiar? (It’s only from 9-1 pm).

I’m looking for advice from the moms who have been there before me. I don’t want to overstep my bounds with her, but I don’t want to ignore something either. Thoughts?

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The Art of Letting Go–Some Beautiful Wisdom From a Mom

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

My childhood home was set back ¼ mile from the highway on a dirt road. It was a beautiful, old farmhouse that my mother painstakingly restored. But it was secluded. I didn’t have anyone next door to play with. Then, the summer before fourth grade a new development went up. Some of the homes were already complete. Since it was paved, it was the perfect place to take my roller skates. One day while skating, I noticed another girl who looked my age–also on roller skates. We smiled in that shy way kids do. We did the “dance”…skating, then looking at each other, then skating some more. Eventually a “hi” came out. Then a “My name is…What’s yours?” Before I knew it, we were skating around the circle together.

Kirsten is my oldest childhood friend. Our lives grew apart, but she is one of those people who I can pick up where we left off. She married a Mexican man and made a life for herself in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico. She has three beautiful boys. We haven’t seen each other in years, but we have that history.

None of this is interesting to anyone, but she did send me this email the other day and her words were so wise, I had to share. I posted recently about how hard it is to let go as our kids grow. But her words were a source of comfort and strength to me. They always have been. Here goes:

Kirsten and Alex post-trip

I just survived Alex’s 10-day long school trip to the Caribbean.  I didn’t go; parents aren’t allowed to.  Of course, I’d have been a willing chaperon but that’s against the tradition.  At the beginning of the year, we were informed that part of the graduation celebration from elementary school was a trip all around the Yucatan peninsula visiting Mayan Ruins, Cenotes (sacred DEEP water sources where the Mayans prayed and sacrificed people), Eco parks, and historical cities.  I didn’t have such an indulgent graduation even from University!  Pepe and I said, NO FREAKING WAY!!  It’s 2012 and between the narcos and the kidnappers, potential tsunamis, malaria, and the fact that Alex has never had a swimming lesson and can only kind of, sort of, tread water, the chances seemed slim that he’d make it back in one ”tweener” piece.

Well, to make a long story short, I just lived through a parental milestone moment.  Not only because of the courage we had to muster up to let him go, but because of the level of discipline I had to apply in order to put into practice all the “life changing” focusing techniques, which I preach about.  Where we choose to center our minds after we catch ourselves diving straight into our deepest fears, is just that, our CHOICE.  I did manage to lure myself out of those dark spaces most of time, where every stranger was a potential threat and every wave could bring with it the riptide that would carry my 12-year old out to sea.  It wasn’t easy, but it was a testimony to the fact that we really do choose how we live our lives based on where we allow our imaginations to linger.

What drove me to finally agree to the trip came from moments spent in quiet and solitude. I would sit and ask, “Is this trip necessary for my son?”  The answer I received was always an immediate and indisputable “YES!!”  I could feel it penetrating my whole body with a sort of WHOOOSH of certainty and peace.

We usually think of our “Motherly Instinct” or “Motherly Intuition” as being a built in warning system that helps us swoop up the baby just in time or to take the long way home today rather than the freeway “just in case.” It’s often our personal, physiological hotline to the Big Guy or Gal who helps us keep our little chicks where they belong–in the nest where they are safe and warm.  But this new stage is teaching me a whole new realm of Motherly Intuition which I’m betting will help me through Alex’s adolescence, which in essence, is a gradual letting go of the sweaty little hand which once clenched  mine with fervor and insecurity.

Rather than maintain our antennas on full alert looking for dangers, we can allow our intuition to work for the positives as well.  We can ask “God,” our “higher selves,” “our guides,” our dead grandmothers, the purple elves–whomever it is that we tend to connect with in our deepest moments of silence–whether something is right for our kids.  “Right” doesn’t mean that they will never get hurt or have problems and challenges. But if it’s done in the highest interest of our children’s growing process, then don’t we need to honor that?  When we receive a “Yes,” as I did, then we have a space of knowing and faith to come back into when the unavoidable monkey talk starts up, reminding us of all that could go wrong.

So Alex returned sun-tanned, a little taller (at least he seemed it to me), and completely decided to be a world traveler someday.  And maybe he will be.  What role this trip will have in his life, I can never know, but I am sure it will have one.  We can’t know our children’s destinies and I believe that it’s wrong to try and define the subtle edges of their gifts.   Our role as mothers is to hold their hands as they discover that for themselves.

There will be more than enough people out there who will try to tell our children what they are and are not capable of.  Meanwhile, developing and trusting our motherly intuition is the greatest gift we can offer in a world so steeped in fear.  It was the true reason I was able to let go of Alex’s hand last week as he boarded the bus in the school’s still-dark parking lot at 5 am.  Not without tears of course, but with the surrender that only comes from the gentle grace of knowing.

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Fia Friday: All About Emmett

Friday, June 15th, 2012

My little guy. What can I say. I gush. I swoon. I am madly in love. We always say to them, “My two kids.” Fia now says, “Mommy, hold you. Your two kids.”  I swoop them into my arms.

Through tears, I wrote this week about how fast they grow up. Through frustration, I wrote about how little time I feel I have. Both are issues I think most of you can relate to.  Some days are better than others.  There is no solution other than to try and be in the moment as much–and as best–as you can.

I noticed Emmett’s feet the other day. The bottoms of them have little X’s. He also has a crease on his big toes. I wonder what a palm reader would say? Maybe he’s destined for greatness? Or, to just be happy. Because I swear, I don’t know how The Divine did it, but the universe gave me the world’s most perfect baby boy. Happy, lively, full of spirit. I love to suck on his toes. He likes to suck on my chin. He is delicious. So today is all about Em.

 Look at that Tooshie!

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Is Your Toddler’s Independence Hard on You?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Today my heart broke a little bit. That’s because I took Fia to her gymnastics class. We go every week. But today was different. Today she went to the “big girl” class.

Coach Sam told me awhile back to get on the waiting list for the next level up. He said he thought she was ready. I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and I hated that woman. But in that moment, standing by the uneven bars with her swinging steadily, I got a glimpse of my inner Tiger. I beamed. I was so proud. I wanted to push her. Make her the best she could be. I couldn’t wait to get home and share my joy–yes joy–with Phil.

I bounded in, out of breath, “They want to move her up in gymnastics!” I exclaimed.

He looked at me, slightly puzzled, “Yeah, okay. Great. So??”

“But they want her in an advanced class! Advanced.

He gently reminded me she was just over 2.

Yes, I know, we’re talking about a now 2 1/2 year old. But growing up, gymnastics was my love. I was never very good at it, but I persevered through high school. I always wished my parents had started me earlier. This is the only sport I can see myself being an overly pushy parent on, so I am acutely aware of the need to show restraint. Keep the Tiger on a leash.

Back to today: Fia and I arrived and went straight for the trampoline–her favorite. I noticed no other parents were chasing tots around on the mats. Just some coaches and kids quietly practicing skills. Wait, we were used to the free-for-all. We usually run in and bounce from one thing to the next, catching some mild structure and instruction in-between. This was different. Subdued. A coach approached me.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes,” I said. “We are here for my daughter’s advanced tots class.”

“Great. Wait behind the gate and at 11:45 we’ll call her in with the other girls.”

“But, what about the trampoline?”

“The advanced class isn’t free play. Parents sit and watch behind the gate. We work with the kids by themselves. You can come for the beginning though and see how she does since this is your first day.”

I gulped. She sat quietly on my lap, my arms holding her tight as we waited. When Fia was called in, I went too. But as soon as I sat down with the 6 other tots and 2 coaches, I realized she didn’t need me there. They told her to run and touch the cone. She did (I cheered loudly–then quickly shut up). Hop on one foot. She tried (didn’t realize what a skill that was). Then they were off to the trampoline. She and the others ran towards it with glee. I was left sitting on the mat. Alone. Realizing how quickly time is passing.

From afar, I watched her bounce happily and do seat drops. They moved onto the rings where my girl held on like the best of them. She waited patiently for her turn.

The balance beam was last and right in front of me. There she went walking confidently across. Then on the smaller one. All by herself.

From the moment they are born, it is our job to make them independent of us. It is primal. The baby feeds off you, then weans. She rolls towards you, then crawls away. She walks into your arms, then turns and runs. They still depend on us, but little by little they gain confidence to be okay on their own. It is a bitter and beautiful reality.

And it’s really f-cking hard.

Today I stood on the sidelines and cheered for Fia. Silently. I must remind myself to tread lightly. As she finds her footing, I must too find mine. It is a delicate balance between holding on and letting go. But this is my job–the one I signed up for when we decided to have kids. There’s a reason it’s the hardest one in the world.

 

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