Friday, February 29, 2008

Parenting opportunity

Ryan and I chatted about the pre-K conference yesterday.

Both of us said that we were surprised. The Tessa that we are used to is bubbly and outgoing, not particularly shy.

But the signs are there, too, and we had not been paying close enough attention.

Our daughter is the way that all children are perfect. She has her drama queen moments, and she's perfected whining, etc., but she is a great kid, and I couldn't imagine any other child for my own. This was a little wake up call to me to see her as she really is, and not as I might perceive myself or as I project ideas on to her.

Tessa and I had a nice little talk about it yesterday. She said that she feels funny when she's watching the other kids play at recess and she's not sure what to do. She said that the other kids are nice to her, and she likes school, but that she doesn't know what to do at recess. We talked about ideas, abstract and concrete, for getting around this. When I left school today, Tessa was sitting at Kate's area, and the two of them were making art together and talking about playdates together. I suggested to Tessa that she should ask Kate to play with her at recess, and Tessa thought this was a good idea. I guess this needs to be taught! I am very interested to hear what Tessa says when she comes home. This will not be resolved overnight, and Tessa may forget today when it's recess, and that's okay. Hopefully she'll remember the heart of what we talked about, and it will help her to not feel "funny" about those times when the kids are playing together and not doing a specific task like making letters or singing songs.

I will coach Tessa to help her to feel more connected at school, and to give her the skills to make new friends. I will also accept her for who she is: slow to warm up, a bit shy at times, an observer. Those things are also wonderful parts of her, and I love them just as much as I love the bubbly girl that I see most often at home.

The teacher pointed out that I can not protect Tessa from all pain, and that she will have to learn on her own timetable. I know this is true, but I can't help but want to announce to each child that Tessa is special, amazing, smart, funny, kind, etc. Of course this would be interfering in the highest degree, and would probably label Tessa a weirdo because of her mother's interference, and I'll never do it. Tessa will have to figure this out on her own, and all I can do is talk about it on occassion, without drawing too much attention to it, and it will work itself out.

Ryan pointed out that when the kids get to know Tessa in kindergarten, even if it takes a while, they'll learn how great she is, and as she goes through school with them she'll pick up friends along the way, at her own pace. She has dozens of friends and a few close friends already, so she's got a great head start.

Phew. This parenting business isn't for sissies.

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