I think I underestimate my kids – a lot. And I’m hoping someone can tell me that’s normal. I happen to think my kids are the brightest, most wonderfully behaved kids EVER. But every once in a while I found out they can do something I’d never even think of haging them try.
My husband and I watched in amazement as our son quickly and skillfully put together a floor puzzle the other day. I was in complete awe that a three-and-a-half year old boy could thumb through 36 pieces and put them together so quickly. When and how did he learn this? And where was I? So we pulled out the “big boy” puzzles, a set of three smaller puzzles, with smaller shapes. A bit more challenging, I thought, no way. I don’t mean to sound like I doubted my son’s intellect, but he’s my baby! There’s no way he could do this all on his own. And then I sat there in awe again, watching my smart little boy put it together with ease.
I sometimes, ok often, feel bad that my kids spend all day in daycare. I wonder, “Is daycare raising my kids? Do I have enough influence? Do they get enough time with me? Are they learning my values and understanding who we are as a family?” And then these moments hit. My son counted to six in Spanish the other night unprompted. My daughter sings new songs with words I haven’t taught her.
I’ll never forget when my son turned one and wasn’t able to move up to the 12-18 month room at daycare for another two months. I was heartbroken that my walking, overly mobile son was stuck in a room with 6-12 month old kids all day. He was missing art projects, outside time (although a few lovely teachers made sure he and his other older friend got out when they could), and the skills that the kids were learning from one another in the next room. So I received frequent updates on the day’s activities in that room from another mom (who incidentally became one of my closest friends during that time – amazing what happens when mom’s start talking). I fear for his future teachers, because these early daycare years have taught me how to advocate for my kids and do what is right for them.
I’ll never forget the day my friend looked at me and announced “they are using crayons”. Really? A one-year old colors? Call me naive, but I never would have put this together myself. So, off to Target I trotted to buy him crayons, paper, and anything else I felt he needed to unleash his inner Monet.
I am sure that if I stayed at home with my kids, I would have done the research and planning to give them these same experiences. Instead, I am able to balance the working mom’s guilt with this amazing experience of realizing my kids can do something that I wasn’t aware of. That brief moment of awe-stricken pride that comes when I see them do something new, with fluidity, grace, and skillful knowledge. That moment of believing my kids are true geniuses.
After all, they are.