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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sometimes they surprise you

Children are funny little creatures. Just when you think you have them all figured out, they surprise you. Whenever you are sure they will go left, they zig right. If you know without a doubt they will pick white, they choose black. 

It is these changes of pace that keep us parents on our toes. They sometimes show us that our babies have blossomed beyond what we thought they were capable, while at other times they remind us that our children still need a little patience in a task we thought they had mastered.

This happened to me a few weeks ago when we transitioned our kids from the school they have both been going to for the last few years, to a new school that is a feeder into the kindergarten they will attend. 

I thought the The Quiet Contemplator would throw open the metaphorical saloon doors of this new opportunity and make it her bitch, while The Cool Cucumber approached it with trepidation. Boy, was I wrong on both parts. What I didn’t take into account with this new phase in theirs lives was the way my children learn and absorb things. While I knew they would both thrive in this new and exciting environment, I thought that they would both approach the change differently thank they did.

You see, my daughter likes rules and things being “right” and instructions. This new school is more about investigation and children being part of the creative process. So the first few weeks were very hard on her. She missed being told what to do and how to do it. She didn’t yet know how to come up with her own hypothesis or original ideas. When you gave her a table full of loose materials and told her to “explore”, she felt lost. She wanted you to tell her what the end product was supposed to be so she could please you by making it. 

I spent every night of the first two weeks holding her as she cried for her old friends and old school and telling her it would get better. It would get easier. That eventually she would love this new place. But I was not sure. I spent event second of those two weeks doubting my choices that had gotten us here. Would it get better? Would it get easier? Would she eventually love this new place? I wasn’t so sure anymore. 

We needed a good hard look in the mirror.

Then, the other morning, it just clicked. I came out of the shower and she showed me that she had conducted an experiment. She wanted to see what would happen when she let the marker sit on a tissue (what happened was that the purple marker bled through the tissue and all over my new butcher block countertops, but that ain’t the tale I am telling’ right now, yo). She was so proud! She wanted to take it to school and show her teachers and her new friends. It was the validation that I needed that I had made the right choice for her. That I didn’t break her, but that I helped her learn to fly. Thank you 8 pound, 6 ounce newborn infant Jesus because I was really starting to wonder about my parenting decisions!

On the other side of the coin, I thought that The Cool Cucumber would struggle with the change. I thought that breaking him out of his finely tuned routine would freak him the flock out. Instead, he embraced the new school like he had always been there. He loved not having to be put into a creative box. He thrived in the new environment that let him explore and make up his own mind. From day one, he basically walked in, looked back at me and said, “Hey, ma. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.” I was shocked. It was incredible to witness and has been so amazing for him. It has cast a new light on him for me. Brought out glints of things that I did not know were inside of him. It has been wonderful.

Change is good.

So though we think we may know how our kids will act in certain situations, they often surprise us. Sometimes for good, and sometimes for bad. But they always keep us thinking. Moving. Changing. Evolving. Without them to wake us up out of our cruise control lives, we sometimes wouldn’t notice that there is more than one way to react. Think. Be. 

For this, I am thankful.

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