We spend a lot of time debating the best ways to educate our children as well we should! But, our focus is mostly preparing our children for tomorrow. We all remember being asked that bothersome question over and over again, what do you want to be when you grow up? Today,we are asking this question at a younger and younger age, even to a child in 1st grade.
And the answers we get vary from doctor to Superman to fireman. But, children have something to teach us that we try to destroy in them. Children at 6 years old know what they need to do and be more than what they are supposed to do and be. Children are natural explorers of everyone and everything around them. They react based on their needs.
I recently attended the annual conference of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children, DVAEYC, in Philadelphia. The plenary presentation of Dr. Michael Fowlin, psychologist and actor, emphasized our natural inclination to do what we need to do and how we grow away from this through an education system that leads us all in the direction of what we are supposed to do and be. We are taught and even programmed at times to meet the expectations of society by following a road of fear of differences and close mindedness.
It all begins at a very young age when our parents and teachers emphasize the importance of safety, control and fear and the future. “Don’t smile at strangers. Look at the shapes on the paper and cross out the ones that are different. Be careful of boys and be careful of girls. Stop talking in class and look straight ahead. There is a time for play and a time for learning.”
I had a wonderful experience playing with my granddaughters Nina and Makayla who are 7 and 6. We were all in the backyard playing with their friend Emma. They were talking about boys and giggling. Nina and Emma who is also 7 said that boys were trying to kiss them all the time and give them love letters. I said, really, love letters? Nina said yes and ran into the house to get a letter for me to read. They wanted me to read it out loud and then turn it into a song.
Emma and Nina laughed and laughed as I swung them on the hammock. Makayla sat on a ball upset that she had not received love letters. I told her it would happen soon enough. It was all very in the present and what was needed in the moment.
I told the story to their parents who thought it was funny but I also sensed some fear about their girls and kisses and love letters from boys, the future.
Children have a sense of time that we can lose sight of as adults. We are constantly preparing ourselves and our children for their next steps through school and college and work and family and retirement. Then the smiling mortician comes…
An anonymous quote best says it all. “Time is like a river, you can never touch the same water twice because the flow that has gone by will never come again. Enjoy your life today, because yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come. Enjoy.”
Thanks Nina, Emma and Makayla for reminding me of the fun and beauty of the present and being what we need to be.