It Makes a Difference.

This time last year I would have told you that she would never be okay with story time. She hated it. She was scared of the other kids. She wanted to explore the room, or sit in my lap, with her hand up my shirt. She didn’t care if there was a story. She cried every time there was a song.

I tried taking her three or four times before I gave up and decided that my parenting was defective. I simply wasn’t raising a child who would be able to go to preschool, or sit in a circle, or engage with others. She couldn’t follow directions. I was a failure.

Last year, this was a disaster. I was understandably nervous about taking her today. She’s been asking to go to preschool though, so we need to start learning the skills that it will take to let her be successful there. Those skills include not having hysterics because everyone is clapping their hands.

What a difference a year makes!

Fiona clung to my arm, sitting in my lap, for the first few minutes. After a bit, she wouldn’t sit down. She tried to climb into the librarians lap when she was asked to sit down. When she did sit, she could only remember to stay sitting for a few minutes before she was up trying to get a closer look (or touch). She talked to the kids next to her during the story.

She also followed instructions, danced, called out answers, and listened to the stories. She had fun. She liked the other children. She wants to go back.

That’s the trouble with the idea of “developmental” activities, we try to make them develop.  A toddler at eighteen months is a very different kid than one at two years. Two years old is so very different from two-and-a-half. There is so much development that happens.

It just happens. We don’t make it happen. We can’t. All the pushing in the world will only make us mad and make our children miserable.

I wasted four hours a year ago trying to fit a developmental model that Fiona wasn’t ready for. I spent four hours making her miserable because it was “toddler” story time and she was a toddler.

I’m reminded of a time when she was just a few weeks old, trying desperately to fit a 0-3 onsie over her head as she wailed and I cried because I couldn’t seem to make it fit.  It was too small. My daughter didn’t fit the label and I couldn’t seem to understand, though she was trying her hardest to tell me.

Slowly, I’m learning to listen.  I’m sure she’ll keep telling me when I get it wrong.

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