Children are fascinating creatures. They are almost another species, in that their brain is just so differently wired from adults. It’s hard to appreciate sometimes what their reality is like. One of the fascinating things about parenting the preschooler is how much more complex issues become. With babies it’s all about whether to sleep in a bed or a crib, what to feed them, how to get them to nap…all these things seem trivial compared to the deeper issues of socialization, individuation, and identifying emotional states that come with being a preschooler.
Observing DD in the classroom those two weeks was a real treat; an eye-opening learning experience that I will always treasure. I watched firsthand as my DD struggled to join a group of older kids playing together, trying to figure out the social dance, and dissolving into tears when she hit a rough spot. I have discovered things about her: she seems bored during the free playtime, but lights up when the routine portion of the day begins – story, circle time, and then out to the playground. She has always set her own pace at home, but whether it’s because its a different environment, or she is just older, she seems to enjoy the routine. Makes me wonder if a fully unstructured school would suit her after all.
She has a tough time sharing. I don’t think this is as much a developmental stage, so much as her attachment to “things”. When DD was 1.5 we went to a consignment store and she found an Elmo doll, which she carted around the whole time we were there. We bought it for her (a great deal at $1.50, and it was not one of Elmo’s electronic incarnations either). She carted Elmo around with her for almost a year. But he wasn’t involved much when we were at home, it was when we went out that she had to have him. As she started to move past wanting him, it was other things. Usually books. DD loves books. Much more so than other kids, I think. She almost always leaves home with a book, and they are usually adult books. She loves maps, and for a while it was the Picture Atlas of European History that was her favorite. She also has some of our Fodor Travel Guides as her favorite: Europe, Paris, and Boston. Or DH’s Linux manual. Other times it’s the toy she happens to be playing with when we leave the house – a few Matchbox cars (she’s never played with dolls, just as I didn’t as a child), a handful of marbles, etc. She just really likes having these objects with her. And on days when those objects are balls or sand toys, she finds it very difficult to share. But she’s skilled enough now to understand that it’s hard to break out sand toys at the park and not have kids gather ’round her. So she will deliberately leave them in the stroller basket, or ask me to help her find a place where the other kids won’t get them. I’m very proud of that.
I can’t wait to see what kind of person she grows into. She’s already so fascinating to me. A real individual. The implications of this re: socialization will be important, I think. She already exhibits the sort of behavoiurs that would immediately be labelled in peer-oriented circles. The word “geek” comes to mind…thank goodness we will never be immersing her in that culture. Public schools are out of the question. Fortunately, we have some great alternative schools here to choose from. More on that another day.