Monday, March 14, 2011
After Art class and a playdate early in the week, as well as a La Leche meeting, we went to Eagle's Nest indoor playground with friends. There was an open gym also that day so the kids got to jump in the bounce house and get even more energy out! Later in the week we hit the library, went out to my parents where Ava did some more cross country skiing, and the kids made snow cones, and finished off the week with the roller rink with more friends!
One thing I've learned about little kids, now that I'm officially on my third toddler, is they are determined to experience what they feel the need to experience. Not only does learning happen without force, but they have an intense NEED to explore and learn about their world. If you get in there way, watch out!
This was in my mind while at the indoor playground last week. After an hour or so of running around and playing, I was trying to get the kids back in order to get ready to go and Noah spotted a staircase in the building. There's nothing for the kids upstairs there so I asked him not to go upstairs and to come get ready instead. The look on his face...I could see his determination, and his hesitation, knowing that I just asked him not to go. He was needing to see what was up those stairs so bad but you could see his worried thoughts about going against what I asked of him. Oh that look! He darted up the stairs, looking back nervously but speeding up as fast as he could anyways. Like he literally could not help himself. He needed to explore!
I really believe that kids at his age really KNOW what they need and that's why there are so many power struggles and tantrums involved when adults get in there way and try to stop them. I recall when Ava was about two she was taking my keys and making them go into the door lock outside. I was getting frustrated because I really wanted to just get inside the house, I think I had groceries at the time. And the kid had a complete melt-down that I wouldn't let her have the keys. I thought right then, she NEEDS to learn how these work! She sees me use them and it is her job as a child, as one needing to learn to do as humans do, as an apprentice, to figure out how to do this and how it works. She's not doing it to be difficult. She's doing what humans are designed to do to ensure they learn.
If kids were easy-going and did as they were told, they may not learn anything! I mean, out of our own adult convenience, why would we think twice about giving them our keys, or letting them run off and explore when we clearly are getting ready to leave? (Or go through the kitchen drawer examining everything and stealing the tongs for picking up matchbox cars!). Why would we let them take time to learn about the simple little things we take for granted if we are rushing and busy? But their constant determination, and as they get older, the begging, the arguing, the "attitudes," keeps us willing to compromise and "pick our battles." But they aren't battles. While it may be inconvenient for us, kids know what they need to learn far better than we do!
After handing off Amora, I went upstairs to get Noah. He was standing at the gated ledge, looking down over the floor below him. I sneaked up on him and grabbed him and tickled him, to show him I wasn't upset that he went upstairs. When we finally made it out to the van after Eagle's Nest, I was thanking the kids for being so helpful and getting ready, and Noah looked down shamefully and said, "Well I wasn't good, I ran up those stairs." I explained that I understood and it was okay. But it really shows that he didn't at all want to go against my wishes. He felt genuinely bad about it. A three-year-old's curiosity IS more important as an adult's convenience. Whether we always can see it that way or not!