Thursday, September 29, 2011

Finding Balance

I'm hating this Indian summer we're having.  I'm anxious for the air to turn crisp and cool and for the leaves to change colors.  But inevitably autumn will give way to winter and I'll soon be complaining about frigid temperatures and bare trees.  
Then I'm really screwed.  
This child of mine needs to be free.  Free to run and climb and roll and fall.  She needs to spin in circles until she's too dizzy to stand.  She needs more than what the four walls of my home have to offer.  

Up until this point we've managed to keep ourselves occupied with trips to the playground or long walks around the block.  When rain has been a factor we've gone to listen to live children's music (attention span: five minutes) and have ventured to a soft playroom where I'm convinced Mackenzie is bound to catch some icky virus that will leave her dripping green snot for four weeks straight (for the record, she absolutely LOVES this place though, so we're in it for the long haul).  
But with the cooler months approaching I feel I have to expand my horizons.  So I've come to the conclusion that I have no other choice than to succumb to -- dare I say it -- ORGANIZED ACTIVITIES.   
So far we've committed to story time at the library on Mondays and music class at the local rec center on Wednesdays.  
Now, I'm all for structure in a child's life.  I think it's important to instill discipline at a young age.  
Sometimes all it takes is seeing the choo choo in the food court
But Mackenzie is just shy of 16 months.  Does it make a whole lot of sense for me to expect her to sit in a circle and focus on something for 30 minutes straight? I was skeptical prior to our first visit to the library, and equally as doubtful before our initial music class.  But lo and behold I was actually surprised by what I witnessed.  Yes, Mackenzie started acting a little stir crazy at the end of story time, and she began picking through the trash can a mere ten minutes into the music class.  But for the most part she paid attention and enjoyed both activities.  It was after a brief conversation with the music teacher that I realized I was going to be the problem with these things, not Mackenzie.  According to the instructor, children will learn and have fun as long as they show up to class, regardless of whether they choose to remain seated in a circle or whether they prefer to walk around and explore their surroundings.  As adults though, we forget what it's like to live in a world without structure, a world where it's ok to march to the beat of your own drum, so to speak.  I was worried that there would be something wrong with my kid if she didn't want to follow instructions for a half hour or if she got bored with marching and wanted to twirl instead.  But that's the thing about young children.  They're supposed to have some wiggle room to do what they want, how they want.  And while it's good for us parents to ease them into a classroom environment and help them develop the skills they'll need come time for school, until they're at that point it's probably best to let kids be kids.  

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