At that moment I realized that I had done something right.
I am one of those parents who are concerned that we are a society that gives children empty praise, oohing over things that are not really accomplishments, things that have required no genuine effort on the part of the child. I’m concerned about the oft offered “good job” that rewards the mundane and expected behaviors. I think it leads to college students asking for extra credit because they bothered to show up for class every day (they don’t like it when the professor points out that they paid for the privilege of attending said class). So, things like “preschool graduation” bother me.
But, my daughter was singing, and I knew that she wanted to share her world with us.
When I think about it, it’s a world that has been her domain since infancy. These teachers and assistants have been her mentors and guides for five years. They have provided hugs, gentle discipline, laughter and really cool experiences for up to ten hours a day for five days a week for five years. This is where she learned to walk, built up vocabulary, made friends, learned about sharing, etc. So next year, when she leaves the confines of that environment for elementary school, it will be a monumental change for her. It IS a BIG DEAL.
She needs to know that her family cares about HER world, that we want to share her experiences, that we are happy to have her show us around and introduce us to the other adults in her life who have taken a role in shaping it (even though we already know them). She needs to know we are interested in her point of view.
So “preschool graduation” isn’t about saying a nondescript and meaningless “good job you’ve accomplished something”, because, frankly, my daughter hasn’t accomplished anything by “graduating” from preschool, except aging, and even I can do that. She would be going on to school no matter what she did in preschool. It’s about “Wow, what a neat world you inhabit. Thanks for showing me around. I’m happy to share your experiences with you.”
I think that is what children crave, and what so many are missing. Children need someone, some adults to show up in their lives, to “all come today—just for them”.
And maybe we shouldn’t be waiting until preschool graduation or Christmas band concerts or soccer tournaments to show up. Maybe we need to be there when the invitation is issued “Mom, let’s play princess. You can be the horse.” Maybe we need to be there when they want someone to push them on the swing or take them to the park or teach them to roller blade.
Don’t have a child? That’s okay. There are organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters who could use adults just like you to show up in a child’s life, just for them.
Our children are our future. If we want them to grow into genuinely caring people, who consider and respect those around them, who treat others with kindness and respect, who look at a situation with multiple points of view, then we need to “show up” in their world, to treat them with kindness and respect, and to show an appreciation for their points of view.
So, I’m glad that I could be part of the group that came, all of us, just for her.
© 2012 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.