Time flies, kids grow, and we age. True. More than that, time flies, kids grow, and we learn. Parenting, for me, has been very different from what I imagined it to be. Actually, I am not sure I imagined anything when it came to parenting. My perception was that parenting was about ensuring that your child was fed, clean, and happy. And it is but it is also about so much more than that. Parenting is about helping your child find out who they are and providing them with the tools necessary to shine and make a difference in the world.
I found that the best way to prepare children for the real world that lies beyond the home is through instilling a basic but very important fact: the rest of the world won’t bend around you and that everyone, at times, must conform to expectations. How does one teach children to at times be defiant and at times conform? Expectations. Failure to set expectations for children to confirm to in early childhood will result in a serious shock to their emotional well-being as young adults. In our own family, we have used responsibilities, activities, and school as a means to teach about expectations.
We made, what was at that time, a difficult choice to send Sophia to pre-school. I remember doubting our choice thinking that three was really very young to end the honeymoon-like time of being a toddler at home. Besides learning baby yoga and how to papier-mâché, Sophia learned what it means to manage her own time and to function on a schedule. She learned to wake up and go to school even if she didn’t feel like it, to get dressed, and make the best of the day. Being in school and part of a larger collective means that a child has to manage themselves for a few hours each day. We are following suit with Eliza who attends a few scheduled classes a week. Looking back, I regret that we didn’t enroll Sophia into a few classes even before pre-school. Social development cannot be fully achieved solely in a home environment.
This structure and a degree of rigidity doesn’t imply that we have a stuffy environment devoid of laughter and silliness. At least one of our girls declares that “we won’t be besties” if she doesn’t get her way freely. That’s fine. I am happy to sometimes be “besties” with them and sometimes not. Responsibility and expectations may at times be quite a burden for children but it does have its rewards.