Why are most people fascinated by rainbows, precious gems, or shooting stars? It's because they're both beautiful and rare. If we're lucky, we are given these types of gifts in our own lives in the form of our children. Each one is unique, precious and special and it's our job to love and nurture them. Some of us are given a child who is quite different from all of the rest. The child who refuses to go along with the status quo. The child who would rather march to the beat of their own drum. This is a child that will search for bugs on a baseball field rather than catch the ball during a game. This is a child that may sit and draw or read while their peers are playing a board game. This is a child that will challenge all the rules. No matter how hard parents try, their child will often refuse to go with the flow and instead prefer creating their own fun. Parents are left worried, wanting their child to belong, wanting them to be a part of a group. Not participating in games that their peers have concocted often leaves the child unaffected. They remain happy, healthy children.
I remember when my son first began preschool in a Two-and-You program. He had a wonderful teacher but he didn't always want to go along with the group especially when it came to singing songs. The entire class would sing a "music and movement" tune like "Ring Around the Rosy" and spin around in one large circle while holding hands. The children and their moms all looked to be enjoying themselves. Meanwhile, my son would watch from a distance or play with some toys in the classroom completely not phased. At first I thought, this is a new experience so maybe he'll join in at a later date. As the weeks and months went by he continued to refuse to participate and I felt the overwhelming sting of embarrassment. Why wasn't he going along with the group? He can do this. Why won't he participate? Whether or not the other moms noticed, I don't really know. Were they talking about us? Were they judging my little boy? Why do I have "THAT" kid? Then one day on our way to the grocery store I heard a little noise coming from the back seat of my car. It was his voice. SINGING!!! He sang the alphabet song so clearly. I had tears of joy and relief streaming down my face but didn't move or look at him through the rear view mirror. I didn't want him to stop. I didn't want to interrupt that precious moment. It was in that moment that I finally understood. It's not that he couldn't sing. He wanted to do it in his own time and in his own way. To this day my little boy rocks out and sings along to songs on the radio while we're in the car but he's hesitant to do it in front of others, and that's okay.
What I learned from the experience was that it's important to honor the spirit of the child we are given. I truly believe that each of us is given the child(ren) we we receive for a reason. It's not really about us teaching them as it is about what they teach us about ourselves. As adults we often think we have all of the answers; that we have the world figured out. Our children teach us otherwise. If you listen, they teach us patience. They teach us to lighten up and have a sense of humor. They teach us the true meaning of unconditional love. When they challenge us, what can we learn from the experience? In essence they teach us to be a better version of ourselves. While it is our job to make them productive citizens, it's also our job to honor their individual spirit whether we understand it in the moment or not. We all want the best for our children. We want them to be healthy and happy. All of us want our children to be successful in their own right. The truth is that the real innovators of our time have never followed the herd. They rattle chains. They stand tall and own their individuality and creativity. When we force our children into activities that don't interest them because it's the activity of the child that we want and not the child we have, we're not honoring their spirit. What we're saying is, if I had a choice I would choose someone who was more athletic, artistic, talented, outgoing than you. Ouch! What does that do to their spirit when their parents, their source of comfort and nurturing are basically telling them, "You're not good enough." We're all born as perfect as we can be. We are all unique and special in our own way. Our society puts demands on us that are unnecessary and unreasonable---Be smarter. Be prettier. Be richer. Be thinner. The fact is we're already enough and that is what we need to teach our children. They are enough. ~HZM
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!