Parenting: a humble business

October 10, 2016

 

 

This weekend, my family headed north to pick out our pumpkins at a farm near Brainerd, MN. While there, we realized it was our tenth year visiting this particular farm-- a surprise to us to realize how much time had passed. I had that feeling of time slipping away, kids growing bigger, knowing less than I did before. Yes, LESS. It's humbling-- parenting is humbling over and over again. Tonight, I'm writing this newsletter with my 3 month old nephew secured to my chest, asleep, in a baby carrier. This was a last resort after a crying jag had me stripping him down, changing diapers, checking fingers and toes, rocking, singing, and every other soothing thing I could think of as a "veteran" parent. But it was the baby carrier (and a little bit his will) that ended up quieting his cries. Humbling.  Being humbled has to do with lowering our level of self-importance or, as one source defines it, to  be decisively defeated. I can think of no more apt description for our role as parents and, frankly, as teachers of preschoolers. 

Decisively Defeated. Just when we think we have things figured out... BOOM. Tantrum. BOOM. Defiance. BOOM, just BOOM. When we submit a bit to the humility of it all and approach our children, our students, with a beginners mind, we often find resolution faster. When we ask, "tell me more about what you're thinking" or "help me understand" we may be surprised to realize that these small people have an interior life with hopes and dreams and an agenda (however irrational sometimes). When the teachers met this week, we reflected on this very thing: humbling ourselves to remember that we don't know everything about what each child wants and needs. But we can begin to know the children more authentically when we lower our level of self-importance and listen to what they say or notice what they do. And the bigger picture: we are not alone in our humbling. Look into the eyes of every humble parent with a young child who stops to admire and stroke a fire hydrant or the parent carrying the small bicycle while the child leads the way on foot or the parent making a swift exit from Target with a screaming toddler. There is communion there. You are doing important work. Together.

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