Thursday, October 25, 2012
Toddlerness often comes hand in hand with trickiness. We each require more space to explore. We are intensely interested in cause and effect and how what we do causes another to act or react. There are more struggles for toys as children assert themselves and work on independence. There are internal struggles with wanting to be carried, held, and cared for while simultaneously wanting to do it for yourself, to refuse help, and to master new skills and challenges. This last part is the most apparent to me as I watch Cohort 5. It is an internal struggle that will exist for the rest of their lives. With each new skill they gain, they will yearn to move both backwards and forwards. It's an internal struggle that I deal with even as an adult.
Working with children and having children are life changing experiences. Observation and attention to what these unique individuals spend significant amounts of their day working on often causes me to process about my own choices and struggles as an individual. The trickiness of our day makes me question both their motives and my own reactions. What are they trying to say? What is it they are needing? Is it space? Is it my help? Why do I instinctively want to react in certain ways? What if I ignore that instinct, does another one take its place?
When a child cries, why do I instinctively want to rush to comfort them? Is it because they really need my comfort, because I need them to need my comfort, or simply because I need to feel comforted by comforting them? When a child cries after a toy is taken, are they mourning the loss of the toy, the sudden change in circumstances, or do they desire to have that toy given back to them? Why not let them cry and grieve the loss of the toy while I'm close to comfort them if they initiate it? Why so often do I feel the need to return the toy to them, as if I am capable of deciding what's fair and what isn't? As if I am capable of protecting them and keeping them from every being wronged?
These struggles and this processing, I believe, are part of what makes humans so different from any other life form. It's much like a scientific method, though there is often no clear ending. There is observation, the mastering of challenges, a desire to understand the process and the why behind those challenges, and a need to seek out new opportunities and challenges which causes us to return to observation. I can only hope that I approach this process with an attentive nature and a mind that is open to seeing outside of the schemas I have created for myself throughout my individual journey so that I may see the experiences of the children in Cohort 5 as opportunities to learn along with the child rather than to teach them.