Thursday, December 23, 2010

To all of the new parents out there

I know quite a few people who have recently had babies.  I would like to give you a gift.  The gift of my experience as a mom, teacher and observer.  I have been working with young children from infants up to 3rd grade for most of my life, and I graduated from the college of experience.  If you do the same thing for years and years, you pick up a few things along the way.
My first gift....the gift of a mess.  Children learn through "doing".  Let them.  Give them crayons and markers and paint and play dough.  Put news paper or an old shower curtain down if you are worried about the mess, but please let them make it.  I have been totally amazed by the number of kids who go to school and have never used a marker or paint because "Mom doesn't want a mess".  How sad!!
Next I give you the gift of noise.  Yes, noise.  It's awful and gets on your nerves like nothing else, but let them be noisy every now and then.  Give them toy instruments to play, drums or pots to bang on.  Let them sing at the top of their lungs (this gets REALLY old when they are in their 20's!!  Trust me on this one).  Let them go outside and scream for no reason at all.  Most kids keep a lot of energy bottled up and it has to come out or they will explode.  The think of THAT mess you will have to clean up!

Speaking of cleaning up, let them clean up their mess.  Little brooms and dust pans, clean sponges...little kids love this stuff!  Fill the sink up with water and bubbles and let them wash their lunch dishes (that shower curtain on the floor will come in VERY handy now).  Let them mop up the water on the floor afterwards.  Let them clean while they are little because once they get older and realize it isn't really a fun thing, they won't want to do it any more!
Teach your children how to respect others.  Particularly when you are out to dinner for example.  Don't sit your kids at a different table and ignore them, thinking that the waitress will baby sit them.  They won't.  This is something I see all the time and it is just rude!  That waitress is not making enough money to be running around taking care of people and baby sitting your kids as well.  Teach your children that these waiters and waitresses are working and it is not their job to clean up the salt and pepper your kid has dumped all over the table.  Respect.  If they do make a horrible mess, have your kids make an attempt at cleaning it up.  And have them apologize.  To the wait person AND to the customers around you who have had to deal with the chaos you all have created.  If you can't tell, this is a MAJOR pet peeve of mine.
Another gift I give to you is boredom.  Let you kids mope around and be bored once in a while.  They might actually have to use their imagination to come up with something to do.  Make them turn off the TV and the video games and entertain themselves every now and again.  Boot their butts outside to play.  Please do not give your children toys that do everything...beep, drive, speak, walk, spell, color, etc.  A few of these are fine, but where does the imagination get used with these?  It doesn't.  These toys do everything....there isn't anything left for the kid to do but watch.  Keep a healthy stock of picture books, coloring books and crayons, blank paper, scissors, glue (yes GLUE!), glitter....things to create with that they can use when they are bored.  You might just be surprised what they create!

Please know that I am FAR from the perfect parent, and my kids is FAR from the perfect kid.  Once Danny hit 7 years old, I was out of familiar territory.  From then on I had no idea what I was doing.  But those early years I actually felt comfortable.  These are just suggestions.  Don't be afraid....of messes and tantrums, of boredom and back talk.  They are all learning experiences for you AND your child.
Enjoy your children when they are young.  They really do grow up SO fast.  Get in there with them and help them make a mess!

1 comment:

  1. This is my favorite one so far. You are brilliant. I miss you in my classroom!