Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Train up a child in the way s/he should go..."

As a teacher, I thought I was pretty good at training children. I probably was... for an hour at a time! I kept up to date on classroom management skills, I was innovative in my lesson delivery in order to keep the children engaged, and I tried to make almost every lesson both informative and exciting. I had 'infinite' time to plan my strategies, units of inquiry, and to prepare my materials. However, being a parent and the primary caregiver as well, as having the full responsibility for my own children and their behavior is quite another matter. Now, with zero preparation time, little sleep, and spending 24-7 with my little boys, I more often than not see and feel myself failing and 'falling behind'.

At night when I go over my day in my mind, I can't help but think of all the times I was exceptionally irritable with the boys, how I could really have taken the time to read that book AGAIN, how I should have explained something properly instead of just saying "NO!", or how fast they're growing and wonder why I don't take the time to enjoy and celebrate this stage of their lives more.

In order to keep from feeling like a miserable mom and to try to keep my spirits up, I remind myself of little successes and positive moments in the day, the week or the month. Here are just a few:

* singing 'Sweet home Alabama' together in the car with my 3.5year old
* playing "moo" with a bell around my neck (my son made me the cow...)
* painting letters with water and my old cosmetic brush on the bathroom door
* dancing around the living room to old pop songs with my 1 year old
* listening to my older son tell my younger son how to say words in German while walking to the store (both in the chariot stroller -thanks Oma & Opa!)
* making monster & pumpkin men with pipe cleaners & popsicle sticks
* checking the jar of sprouts with my 3.5year old each morning to see how much they grew in the night
* watching my 1 year old's eyes glow when he sees trees
* receiving many dirty hugs and slobbery kisses from both boys

The way they shouldn't go...
It seems that various media are out to train up our children for us, and most often in ways that we really don't want them to go. I was always aware of violence in children's programming and I saw the results in my students at school. However, now that I am a parent, I am both shocked and infuriated by the amount of gratuitous violence in children's games, television, movies, etc. The recent movie 'Cars 2' is my main focus at the moment. My son watched and loved the first movie which had a fantastic moral story, NO GUNS, lots of clear friendship messages, no fighting and plenty of harmless humour. The sequal was the opposite: the positive message was conveluded and weak, the races and friendship scenes were all interrupted by scenes with fights, guns or anger and aggression that is unnecessary for most healthy 2-6year olds to be aware of. In fact, some of the older James Bond movies would have fewer fight and gun scenes than this animated children's film! In my opinion, it seems that many sectors of the media are trying to train our children for a violent future.

This is both saddening and frustrating. Sad, because I would hate to see that future and it is not the one I would envision for my boys. Frustrating, because I want my boys to equipped for the future and if the future is one of violence, then perhaps by keeping them sheltered from it, I am destining them to failure. This dilemma is really a harsh decision to make about who my boys will become... will they be weak and gentle failures, or will they become violent and sucessful leaders? How can I train them to be aware of violence and yet strong enough to steer themselves and others away from it? I don't know, but I pray that I'll find the answer one day before they get too big.

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