Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Letting Our Kids Be Kids

In the age of mompetition I'm very careful not to overshare information about my Lil Love Bird's development in a braggadocios kind of way. I may do her monthly updates here or share in the weekly mommy updates that I'm a part of on a private forum, but many times (especially in competition crazed NYC) I'm privy to information and questions from other parents that I find unsettling. 

I'm talking about parents who upon meeting me and my family and observing Nia quickly exclaim, "Oh wow your daughter's doing xyz! When did she start walking? Mine started at ___ months. When did she get her first tooth?" I usually give a half smile and my eyes glaze over.

And don't get me started on percentiles. They are so bogus and fuel so much mompetition that I don't even bother sharing. 

Anyway, a thread I saw was talking about the development of toddlers and while Mr. Love Bird and I don't force Nia to learn things like colors, numbers or letters once her dr. OKed her watching Sesame Street we noticed she took to it and was counting and pointing out colors and letters to us all the time. She loves books and is extremely verbal. Her dr. has told from the beginning when she started holding her head up at 2 months, teething at 3 months, walking at almost 11 months and her language development that she is not the norm. What we have done as parents is encourage the things she shows an interest in. (We recently watched Being Elmo which depicts this type of encouragement which the puppeteer received from his family at an early age - I highly recommend it!)

The same day I saw the thread I mentioned above I came across this amazing post via Kelly Mom's Facebook wall from Magical Childhood: What Should a 4 Year Old Know?

Here's an excerpt:

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

  • She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
  • He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  • She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
  • He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  • She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy. 
The author then goes on to list what parents should know too. While it's a wonderful reminder to me to let my Lil Love Bird be a kid, I do know that American children are awfully behind compared to the rest of the world and having a minority child in both gender and race makes things more challenging so a head start does not hurt. I promise to take a gentle approach to Nia's early learning and keep Magical Childhood's post for ready reference as a reminder to do so.