Saturday, January 22, 2011

Preschool Is Preposterous

Just kidding, I love preschool. Yesterday was "P" day, and also my working day at the cooperative preschool Lucy attends. And it's fun to think of "P" words all day long. Even though it's now the next day but whatever.

When it was time to clean up and get ready for lunch time at preschool yesterday, one child did not take kindly to my helpfulness in the matter of putting away the giant waffle blocks. This child (whose name and gender shall remain anonymous) rushed me, and commenced to beat me with little fists, kick me, and violently climb up my body while frantically hanging on to me. 

Whoa there little cowboy/cowgirl. Where's the love?

This is my sixth year being involved in a cooperative preschool, which means working in the classroom alongside the teachers at least once a month. I have never had a child attack me, especially not an almost 5-year old child who maybe should be well past the age of violent temper tantrums.

My instinct...well my instinct was to think, "thank GOD my kids never behave like this."  And boy is that dangerous territory.  I had to hurry up and get that thought right out of my mind lest my own 4-year old suddenly develop a bad habit of beating her parents or random strangers into submission. Because that's how the universe works.

Oh my GOD. I can't believe his parents let him use a pacifier. He's like 3 years old!

Enter the child who sucks her thumb until she is 6.

Co-sleeping is dangerous! Those idiots will be sorry when they suffocate their poor, innocent infant who should be safely sleeping in his own crib!

Enter the baby who will only sleep while being held, and believe me, there is only so much sleep one can endure while sitting up. Furthermore, there is only so much sleep-deprivation one person can tolerate. And for some of us, that might not be very much at all.

Judging our fellow parents can easily become an ugly habit. Maybe that kid you saw at the grocery store this morning had a filthy dirty face because his mother woke up late and had to feed him a chocolate Poptart for breakfast, in the car on the way to dropping her other kids off at school, because there was nothing else to eat in the house, and then when they got in the grocery store (because there was nothing to eat in the house, are you following?) she fittingly realized that she did not have any wipes or a single tissue with which to clean her child's face. 

But why would she wait until there's nothing to eat before going to the grocery store? Doesn't she plan for these things? Maybe her husband's paycheck came late, or maybe the whole family was down and out with a nasty stomach bug all weekend. Or a millions other things, it really doesn't matter.

But chocolate Poptarts? Who would feed their children such absolute garbage? Maybe a well-intentioned grandparent brought them over for a treat. Or maybe it's just a family who eats Poptarts, okay? Who cares? 

Well alright, but couldn't she have just taken him home to wash his face once she realized how filthy he was? How long could it take to get him out of the cart, put him back in the car seat, drive home, take him out of the car seat, bring him in the house, wash his face, get him back in the car seat, drive back to the store, get him out of the car seat, and put him back in the cart? Do you even have kids?

My own kids have done their best to embarrass me plenty of times. Don't all kids? And because I know I sometimes might have a snarky thought cross my mind when I see someone else's kid behaving poorly, I cringe all the more the one time my oldest decides to start crying at the store because I won't buy her something she wants. I know I'm being judged. My parenting skills are in question, my character, the character of my child, our family values. 

So that child who attacked me...well maybe he or she was having a really bad day for some reason. Maybe his or her dad was out of town for work and he or she was really missing him. Or maybe that little boy or girl was coming down with a cold, or didn't get enough sleep the night before.  Or whatever. 

No kid is perfect, no parent is perfect, and there is no one perfect way to raise a child to ensure perfection. Sometimes we do the very best we can, and still our children misbehave or do things we really wish they wouldn't do.  Despite our best efforts, they might lose their homework or spill juice on it. They might say something rude to somebody. They are their own people, after all. They don't follow scripts that we carefully prepare for them. Sometimes we might wake up late and not have time to brush their hair. Sometimes we might not notice that their shoes don't match until we're half way through the mall. The end result that everyone sees and judges is a conglomeration of so many things. Things that the person judging usually has no way of knowing.

When I realize these judgments are cropping up into my consciousness, I do my best to nip them in the bud a.s.a.p. Because it's true what they say about walking a mile in another man's shoes. Being helpful, kind, and understanding might take a little more effort. But it's effort well spent.


ThurberGang said...

Love this. . . I try to remind myself the very same things - and reminders are always helpful! One incident that really got me once was when I was down and out with kidney stones - big fever and in TONS of pain and i couldn't find anyone to pick up my kids from school this one day . . . i had my eyes closed (trying to breathe through the pain) in the line of cars at the school when suddenly I was being honked at. I put up my hand, waving a 'sorry' and was about to go, when the person honking was soon passing me - shaking the finger at me and screaming obscenities. . . I just broke down, wishing that I could have explained. Since then, I make up reasons for why people are driving crazy - assigning them a fictional story so that instead of getting angry at them, I pass them (or get out of their way) happily and kindly!

alyaia75 said...

I do the same thing while driving! And I was screamed at in the pick-up line one time too and I will never forget it, I was so upset.