Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is there such a thing as too much love?

There is one thing I can say without hesitation about my husband: He is a fantastic father. He is loving. He is thoughtful. And perhaps most importantly, he is there. A lot. Another thing you should know about him is that he's a scientist by nature. He thinks analytically. So sometimes the things that come out of his mouth sound cold, but really they're just observation.

My husband thinks I'm too needy when it comes to words of admiration. Maybe he's right. I can't help but eat up any words of praise that come my way. But it's my belief that most people want to think that they're the bees knees to at least one person on this planet. Makes sense to me that for most, family is where to fill that need because, let's be honest, there aren't too many other people out there who are thinking of your welfare from day to day. (And for some family isn't even a reliable source.)

One day, I was fawning over my children, cuddling and snuggling, praising and preening. My husband later commented that I wasn't doing them any favors by giving them such extravagant showings of love and admiration. The world doesn't work that way, he said. When they grow up, they're going to have a tough time without it. At that moment, his comment sounded ridiculous to me. I brushed them off with a dismissive waive of my hand. Pshaw. Hold back my love to protect my children? Um, no. I don't think so.

Logistically his argument seemed ridiculous. How would I even go about editing my displays of affection? Academically, I couldn't help but mull over the possible validity of his suggestion. As a conscientious parent I do all kinds of uncomfortable things in the name of my children's welfare. I've endured tantrums over a denied cookie because it would send the wrong message to give in. I've sent my little ones to preschool when they were nervous about being away from me for the sake of socialization and emotional growth. I've sent them to sleepovers in the name of independence, all the while anxiously awaiting the inevitable Midnight call to retrieve them. So why does it seem so ridiculous to go outside my comfort zone when it comes to love? To reserve praise in order to prepare my children for their cold, hard future? Yes, children thrive on love and praise. But we've all seen the articles about how too much praise is not good. The argument that not EVERYONE should win a trophy.

Someone once said to me, "If you knew you were going to have to eat McDonald's for the rest of your life starting one year from today, would you start eating it now?"

A rhetorical question if there ever was one. So is there such a thing as too much love? Maybe, but somehow it seems wrong to withhold whatever I have to give. So I'm giving it. Freely. I'm offering as much love as my babies will take because I think love is why we're here on Earth. Everything else is stuff we made up and deemed important.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Light at the End of the Tunnel

It's been a while since I've posted, and that's been for good reason. Summer got in the way. Having two children around all the time pretty much precludes writing in any way. Also, I was waiting until I had something of note to say. Given the preschool thing hadn't yet begun, I guess I was on pins and needles, wondering what would happen.

Turns out things are going well.

I used a period at the end of that sentence as opposed to an exclamation point because, considering my own feelings and my little one's, one of us is happy and the other merely satisfied. Before I get into the details, I suppose a recap is in order.

When last we "spoke" on the subject, my son had not been admitted to the preschool of my choice. I was left to scramble to find one that met his needs. Given his reaction to being left alone in classroom during his test visit (can you say "severe meltdown?"), I needed a place that would allow me to accompany him to school until he was ready for me to exit. It became my top priority, and I found that place. It's a nice place, clean and pretty. And it's a school which follows the opposite philosophy from where I originally intended him to go.

So remember that all this time I've been accompanying my little one to school every day. All day. Try sitting in a classroom watching an educational philosophy in action that you don't identify with. It was difficult to hold my tongue! I won't go into too much detail here because the school itself is well intended. It's doing all the things it's supposed to be doing, both by school standards and in accordance with its overall philosophy. Plus, it's not all bad. Parts of their philosophy make a lot of sense. All in all I'm grateful for the outcome.

It's important to note that this school is able to provide one thing that not many other places do around here: They let me wean him off my presence gently thanks to their child-led policy. I started by staying with him the entire day. I did that for two whole weeks, at which point he began to wander away from me. I was envisioning having to do this all year until one day he suddenly sought the company of other children and began asking teachers for help rather than me. At that point I left 20 minutes early to get the car and wait in the carpool line while he played outside with the class. He held it together! So the next day I left a little earlier. And so on, until my little one and I talked about it and he said he was ready to go to school without me. That day was yesterday, and guess what... no tears! None. Just smiles.


I'm deeply grateful for the gift this school has given us. My son is discovering all the wonderful things school has to offer. And he is growing emotionally and personally. It's why I wanted him in school in the first place. Turns out I was right about one thing. He is ready for school. He just needed a little help getting there.