Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Toddler timekeeping

There's a bit of a tendency to panic in the face of children's mindfulness.

Very often, I try to rush my two through an experience because I'm rendered quite rabbit-in-the-headlights bored and claustrophobic by sitting still in a moment. Breakfast. Dressing. Walking to the library. There will typically be no good reason to hasten the toddler-extended experience of these things, other than the anxious sensation in my gut that it's wrong to dawdle.

Why does it matter if we spend an hour eating a bowl of cereal? We're lucky enough to have few appointments that need keeping these days. I have much more to learn from their being engrossed than they do from my impatience.

Last Christmas, I really regretted rushing us through Advent. The world around us makes it difficult enough to wait for December 25th, but often we embrace its hurry. On December 1st, we're talking about presents and putting up trees and asking them if they're excited about Santa and simply wishing the month away.

Children can't cope with this rush and yet we determined adults force them to endure it. In my opinion, the older they get before they start to buy into it, the better. Let them live one chew, one minute and one day at a time. I suspect they'll enjoy Christmas Day a lot more if its promise hasn't whipped them up to fever pitch by the time it arrives. This year I'm going to try really hard not to speak to them in anticipation of Christmas until a couple of days before it hits.

I try not to talk with them about much beyond tomorrow. In my analysis, at three, they get confused by much mention of things much farther off. I hope to let them lead the way and let me know when their grasp of the future is getting stronger. We won't be able to fight it forever, I know.

One of the biggest disservices we can do ourselves is to constantly focus on tomorrow, to constantly worry about today's lack of productivity. I'm so thankful I have some toddlers in my life at the moment to show me a better way.

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