Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tails and tears

Last week my big girl had her first book parade at school. We decided she should go as The Cat in the Hat and excitedly cobbled together her costume.

We already had a hat, thanks to my sister-in-law having passed down dress-up clothes. I stuffed it with some Polyfill so that it would stand up, and she could wear black clothes for the body. So I just needed to make a big red bow to go around her neck and a tail, and draw some whiskers and a nose on her face.

In an effort to keep it simple, for the tail I cut up an old pair of my opaque tights, made the tail out of one leg, stuffed it with Polyfill and made the waistband out of the waistband of the tights, making it smaller and sewing the tail on. No need for velcro or any closing device, it just pulls up. This method could easily be used for any sort of dress-up tail, maybe painting the tights or using different coloured ones. The whole thing wasn't stressful and we both enjoyed the process.

Once again, though, I was really sad to see her in tears at the end of a parade. In the hundreds of people around (the school has over 700 students) she couldn't find me and ended up sobbing, holding the hand of a lovely teacher's aide, who had taken her to look for me while her class went in a different direction. And once again I found myself wondering if we've chosen the wrong school for her (too big and impersonal?) and whether in fact she was too young to start (she turned 5 in April). I felt sad for her, helpless, and I'm afraid to say, a little embarrassed too. I was a little angry too that she was being sooky and that she didn't trust that I would find her.

In that strange way that you stumble upon something you happen to need at the time, later at home I came across a parenting book that some lovely friends had given us a while ago. I opened it to this paragraph:

By applying positive parenting skills, parents can learn to support their children's natural growth process and to avoid interfering. Without an understanding of how children naturally develop, parents commonly experience unnecessary frustration, disappointment, worry and guilt and unknowingly block or inhibit parts of their children's development. For example, when a parent doesn't understand a child's unique sensitivity, not only is a parent more frustrated, but the child gets the message something is wrong with him. This mistaken belief, "something is wrong with me", becomes imprinted in the child and the gifts that come from increased sensitivity are restricted.

How true. It made me think about how individual children are and that I need to accept them and help them however I can, but that it's really their journey. And sure she can be sooky, but she's also incredibly affectionate and close to me, and I wouldn't change that for anything. In hindsight it seems a bit like a 'parenting 101' lesson, but I guess we I just need to remind myself occasionally. Love you big girl.

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