Ok, so we know it is far past graduation season, however the awareness this mom gained during a recent preschool graduation event is — timeless.
This post is re-printed with permission of the author, who has the uncanny ability to move me to tears, with each post. If you want to read about dedication, commitment, progress, set-backs, and real-life with Parenting On Track™, read this blog.
Really? I thought as I sat down.
I had arrived early for Talula’s last day of school as we had been asked by the teachers thinking we were having a BBQ, not realizing there was going to be some kind of ceremony for a bunch of 3 year olds. I sat down beside my husband wanting to say “are you freaking kidding me? they are having a graduation ceremony for these little goof-balls?”. But I couldn’t, I was surrounded by other adoring parents who may have been a tad offended by my comment, so I kept my mouth shut and grinned and bared it. Thankfully, they didn’t come out wearing cap & gown (as my mother asked when I told her about the whole event); but I did come away having been grateful that I just witnessed the whole thing. Who knew?
The children all proceeded into the end of the gymnasium that they had blocked off for this event in pairs waving “flags” that they had made. And there was Talula waving that flag high and proud like it was the most important thing in the world to her. All the kids were in two’s – except Talula, she was marching to the beat of her own drum, not being unruly, just doing her own thing and lovin’ it. She was so utterly confident, so utterly at ease in front of a bunch of people, so utterly content with life. And then I thought “I need to nurture this, I can’t let this belief she has about the way she approaches life fade away”.
AND THEN I thought about where Talula and I would be if I hadn’t become so consumed by the concepts behind Parenting On Track™. We’d be fighting. All the time. I’m an authoritarian, there is absolutely nothing permissive about me. Talula is my power child and WHOO BOY would we be butting our heads together like a bunch of stubborn male rams in heat if I hadn’t been blessed with the knowledge that I have been given by Parenting On Track™. Seriously. Thor is my attention child, and probably would have fallen in line with my authoritarian ways but eventually would have come out the other side as an adult that didn’t have any respect for me. But Talula and I ~wow ~ our relationship, at her tender age of 3, would have already been explosive and ugly.
In the last few days I’ve started to have the realization that as an authoritarian, I have attached myself to the “discipline” (and I use that term for the lack of a better word – it’s not discipline in the normal sense) strategies of Parenting On Track™ fairly successfully. I give them the choices, I let them feel the consequences of their choices, I ask them what the responsibilities are that go with the privilege they are asking for, I say “yes, as soon as….”. All those, “you’re going to go with the flow of the family” or else (?) things. Not that there is an “or else”; but it’s suddenly how I’ve been feeling. And then I realized why. I have been using all these strategies for making our life smoother, but have not been giving enough attention to one crucial thing: our relationship with each other. I have been thinking, I think, that just parenting this way was enough to make that connection with my kids. I think I believed that just by not being the nag, not being the enforcer, not being loosy-goosy, not being the yeller etc etc was all I needed to do to build a solid relationship with my children. Not so. And it took a ridiculous pre-school graduation to let me see that.
So here is my goal for the summer: build the relationship stuff. Keeping going with all the other stuff, but focus on the love of my children.
Oh, and I have one more goal for the summer: teach Talula that in’s and out’s of why we wear underwear.