Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I know that most people feel with your first child you are overly protective and with subsequent children you have a more "realistic" or relaxed position on safety and cleanliness. I'm not sure if it is just me but I don't feel the need to sanitize everything he touches or to worry that the house has its own herd of dust-bunnies roaming freely across my wood floors. My feeling is if I can touch it and not feel grossed out then he can too. Besides there is that old saying 'a little dirt, never hurt.'
My poor friend's cats have been quarantined to the upper part of her apartment because her son, only 5 weeks older then Little Man, was eating the hair. In contrast Little Man regularly gives open mouth kisses to our pugs and cats. To those of you that are freaking out a bit about that statement our cats are indoor only animals and the pugs go out to do their business and hightail it back inside to the comfort of the couch as soon as possible.
I wouldn't say our house is filthy but neither myself or Hubby have time to run around picking up every little piece of fluff, dust or speck of dirt in our home. So Sundays are my usual big clean up day and the rest of the week if it isn't a hazardous waste spill, I usually leave it until later.
So what has been the point of my airing of our "dirty laundry" cleaning practices? Which, reminds me I have to turn the wash over. I picked up Little Man from daycare and found him with hands in the diaper pail while, his teacher told me emphatically how he showed them his new trick, walking unassisted. All I wanted to say was "EWW, how could you let my baby get into the diaper pail!?" Instead I said, "Yucky Little Man, stay out of the garbage." Why did I scold my child, he though that the swinging lid was exciting and I feel a pang of guilt about my reaction. I let him explore and don't worry that much about what he touches at home and I probably never taught him that the garbage is not something to go sticking your hands in, so he didn't know any better.
I have a lot of these moments, not Little Man doing something cringe-worthy, but discovering that I don't always have the right tool at the exact moment that I need it. I'm taking this time to practice admitting that I don't always have the right answer with my child. At 10 months he probably doesn't understand what I'm trying to tell him about how I'm sorry that I overreacted yesterday or that I should have let him do this or that 20 minutes ago. But, I am learning to check my gut reaction for the next time or the art of the apology and discussion of decisions, for the future when he does understand more.
This new skill is actually helping me in my work as a high school teacher. I used to hate it when my mother would tell me something and when I asked why she would say,"Because I said so." Even though I hated it, I always ended up doing what she asked because she was my mom and what she said went. When I first started teaching I found myself saying that phrase when my students questioned the school rules or my decisions. It is a nifty little phrase that shows you have authority and you don't necessarily have to explain your reasons why. A lot of the time I thought that the students shouldn't ask what the reasons were.
Now that I have Little Man I question this because if I can't answer why for myself it is foolish for anyone to blindly follow a direction or rule if they don't understand the reason for that decision. Just because something has always been done a certain way does not mean that is the only way of going about it and that no one should ask why we do it that way. Questioning is why and how we have so many advances and conveniences in our society today. Since I've had this change of heart about how much I share of my reasons or what the reason is behind my decisions my classroom has been much smoother in its operation.
Just telling Little Man to keep his hands out of the garbage and expecting him to listen because I said to keep them out does not help him to understand why it is important to keep his hands out. So if I had that scene at the daycare to do all over again here is what I would have liked to tell Little Man. "Little Man, the garbage is for all the dirty things in this world that we no longer want and shouldn't touch. You are the best little boy in the world and no one should ever put you in the trash. So please keep your hands out- that way no one gets confused between you and the garbage." Here's hoping that I handle things with him in a more enlightened way and that I am always open to the discussion and if necessary, the apology in the future.
Update:The next day I went to daycare and was told he had been in the garbage three times that day. I told him exactly what I had rehearsed in this post. The following day his teacher reported that he didn't go near the garbage once.
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)
- Affection — Alicia at I Found My Feet has finally become a hugger and kisser, now she has someone sweet and small to snuggle with. (@aliciafagan)
- Learning from Daniel — Amy at Anktangle hopes that she and her husband will always be open to learning from their son. (@anktangle)
- Kids Cultivate Awareness of Universal Truths — From forgiveness to joy, Amy Phoenix at Innate Wholeness has become aware of deep truths that come naturally to children. (@InnateWholeness)
- What the Apple Teaches the Tree — Becky at Future Legacy has learned about imagination, forgiveness, and strength.
- A Lesson in Slowing Time — Bethy at Bounce Me To the Moon revels in the chance to just be with her baby.
- Learning From My Children: I Am So Honored — WAHM Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey is learning to choose tea parties over work. (@MyMotheringPath)
- P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E — Now that she's a mother, Danielle at born.in.japan is finally learning about a personality trait she lacked. (@borninjp)
- Top 5 Homeschool Lessons My Children Taught Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what she learned from homeschooling her (now grown) children. (@DebChitwood)
- Learning to Live in the Present By Looking to the Future — Dionna at Code Name: Mama finds the patience to be a gentle parent, because she knows how fleeting childhood really is. (@CodeNameMama)
- The watchful Buddha boy — At Dreaming Aloud, they are learning to cherish their thoughtful, sensitive child in a action-driven, noisy world. (@DreamingAloudNt)
- What My Children Taught Me — Dulce de Leche's children have taught her to value herself for the wonderful person and mother she is.
- Lessons from the First Year — Having a child made Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama realize that her decisions affect more than just herself. (@CrunchyishMama)
- Lessons from Loss — Erica at ChildOrganics learned so much from the love — and loss — of her sweet Bella, five years ago. (@ChildOrganics)
- The Socratic Baby — Erin at Multiple Musings has so-called "identical" twins to serve as a daily lesson in nature vs. nurture. (@ErinLittle)
- Learning to be a Mother — Farmer's Daughter learned the type of patience that enabled her to calmly eat one-handed for months and change clothes seven times a day, before noon. (@FarmDaughter)
- A Few Things Being a Mom Has Taught Me — Heather at Musing Mommy shares the curious, hilarious, and sometimes Murphy's Law-like tidbits we learn from our children. (@xakana)
- I Feel You — Motherhood has taught Jamey from At the Bee Hive empathy, and it extends beyond just her child. (@JameyBly)
- Lessons From My Child… — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy shares the inspiring ways she's learned to expect the unexpected — and have a camera ready! (@imaftmummy)
- My child is my mirror — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama has seen herself in her children – and it's not bad. (@crunchychewy)
- There is enough to go around… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life learned that love doesn't diminish when it's shared.
- Learning From Our Children, Every Day — Kimberly at Homeschooling in Nova Scotia, Canada is continually inspired by her children. (@UsborneBooksCB)
- Life Lessons From My Children — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood has learned that every slug is fascinating, doing the dishes is fun, and sharing a banana is a delight. (@crunchymamato2)
- Things I've Learned From My Children — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings uses pictures to share what she has learned from her children. (@sunfrog)
- Beyond the questions lies the answer — Lauren at Hobo Mama stopped wondering and started knowing — loving and liking our children comes naturally. (@Hobo_Mama)
- Learning from Children — Lily, aka Witch Mom, finds out just how enchanting balloons can be. (@LilyShahar)
- Lifelong Learning — Lindsay at Living in Harmony has learned that what works for one kid might not work for another. (@AttachedMama)
- Walking alongside my daughter — Lindsey at Mama Cum Laude is learning to give the clock less power over her family's life.
- Things my baby taught me about me — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is proud of how she has grown as a mother. (@lvano)
- From my children, I have learned — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip has a litany of beautiful lessons, from selflessness to sleeplessness.
- The Little Things in Life — In a simple and lovely prose poem, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shows how adults worry about the wrong things and forget the little, important ones: watching ladybugs, jumping in leaves, cherishing each moment as it comes.
- The Virtues of Motherhood — Melissa at The New Mommy Files has had opportunities to learn from children as both a teacher and a mother. (@NewMommyFiles)
- My Kids Have Taught Me That It's Time To Stop Blogging — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! has learned that childhoods fly by too fast to blog. We'll miss your wonderful online presence, Melodie, and we wish you much peace and happiness. (@bfmom)
- Having Kids Has Taught me a Thing or Two — Michelle at The Parent Vortex learns all day long — from fun facts about hedgehogs to tying a complicated wrap with a screaming child and an audience. (@TheParentVortex)
- We Could All Learn from the Children — Momma Jorje takes time to get on the floor and play so that she can see the world through her child's eyes.
- Teaching Forgiveness — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog has a daughter who's taught her unconditional love — even when she feels like she does't deserve it. (@littlegreenblog)
- Parenting as a joint venture — Olivia at Write About Birth appreciates watching the astonishing way her children learn. (@writeaboutbirth)
- Beginner's Mind — Rachael at The Variegated Life learns from a child who builds bridges to nowhere, calls letter magnets his numbers, and insists dinnertime is truck time. (@RachaelNevins)
- A baby's present — RS at A Haircut and a Shave presents a short poem on the differences between a baby's mindfulness and ours.
- Self-Confidence Was Born With My Daughter — Sara at Halfway Crunchy learned to trust her instincts by responding to her child's needs — and saw her self-confidence bloom.
- The Importance of Being Less Earnest — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante has one list of earnest and one list of silly things she has learned as a parent. (@seonaid_lee)
- Lessons my children have taught me — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes learned that attachment parenting was the best way to meet the needs of her child and herself. (@Sheryljesin)
- Till the water is clear — Stacy at Mama-Om learns that being present is the best present. (@mama_om)
- I Hold It — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has learned that the ability to communicate is much more important than the number of words a child knows.
- What My Children Taught Me About Letting Go — Summer at Finding Summer is learning from her kids to laugh in the face of heartache. (@summerminor)
- Finding My Tools — The Artsymama has applied some of what she's learned as a mama in the classroom, with great results!