Every now and then, my husband has to hold me and let me cry. It’s over the same thing every time. The issue only gets “worse” over time and he cannot do anything to make it better except let me have my cry and hold me.
The “problem” is my babies are getting older. I really struggle.
I have many regrets as a parent, but there is one area that I do not regret in the slightest… I didn’t rush the little years.
Many years ago I tried. Oh! I pushed and prodded one of my kids to be “ahead” of the curb. To get potty trained early. To be self-sufficient early. To learn complex things early. It stressed me out when she did not progress the way I thought she needed to progress. She was two.
About three months in, I had to take a good, long look at myself and ask “why?” Why did I feel the need to rush her along? Why was I adding undue stress to my life, and stressing her out in the process? What was my goal?
And the answer I came to was this: to look good. To be able to wear the label of “Supermom.” I did not have her best interests at heart, but my own.
I may have scarred that little girl for life because of the pressure I put on her as a toddler. I regret it to this day every time she gets stressed out for not being “on par” with her older sister. I let go of that expectation many years ago, but she didn’t.
Moms and Dads, let your kids be little. Learning phonics and math will come, and it will last them their lifetime. But playing with wooden blocks and play-doh and blowing bubbles and splashing in the tub… these interests are short-lived. You will miss it someday.
Forced prodigy is not prodigy at all, but a little life that is being lived vicariously through a parent. That’s no way to be a kid. We can really suck all the joy out of learning when it is pushed on a child formally at an early age.
Not to mention, study after study has come out about the benefits of unstructured playtime. Creativity abounds when we can let our kids be unfettered. Imagination and pretend play are not things to be squelched, but are integral to our learning process. Adults try to minimize these concepts because we forget how important they were when we were kids.
Little preschool brains are still learning even when it is not in a formal setting anyways. Fine and gross motor skills are still developing. Language and vocabulary are being established along with speech patterns. And boy, oh, boy! They are picking up ever so much from the world around them! Sensual learning is important at the toddler stage, and we gloss over this area because it is not reading, writing or arithmetic.
I try to remember this: billions of kids around the world for millennia have survived and thrived and excelled academically without being geniuses by five. They were trained by parents who paid attention enough to know when they were ready to begin their formal training at an age right for them.
Now, let this be clear, I am not saying that you should let your kid decide when to start learning. Parents need to lead their kids. Some are more reluctant than others and will need more prodding. God gives us instincts for such things. If your child is ready and eager to begin learning more formally, do not hold them back. Such love of learning is to be encouraged.
Do remember, those first 4 or 5 years go so fast. Children learn so much in those first years. Important things, but not necessarily academic in the way we think as adults. And that is great. Cherish that time. The reading and the addition and the penmanship will come. The diagramming and long division and reports will be here before you know it. And you will wish you could just smoosh some play-doh between your fingers without looking like a dweeb.
I just had a crying session today. It was so random. As my dear, sweet husband was holding me and listening to me blubber about having only six summers left with my oldest, he said this: “I will always picture her as a little girl jumping on our bed.” He holds on to a precious memory of her carefree at the age of 2 or 3. It’s a precious time. Don’t rush it.