Saturday, December 11, 2010

Parenting What Is

Do you ever have the experience where you know something is true, and when that thing is true there is a best way to proceed, but somehow the dots haven't fully connected yet so you continue to do the wrong thing even when you're staring at the right thing?

I'm coming out of the fog of that right now.  For months and months now, I've been telling people Rosie is non-emergent. Emergence, according my nascent understanding of Neufeld's term, is essentially our ability to play alone - to have our own thoughts and ideas come through us. Sometimes he calls it "venturing forth."  Emergence comes from a state of maturity that is a result of complete attachments and a place of rest, basically trusting that we are safe and our needs will be met.

I think.  Right now.  Boy, nothing like trying to explain a concept to help clarify how much still don't completely understand about it.  But I think I'm close.

Anyway, I've known for months that right now Rosie is not is a developmental place to play by herself. Which of course would mean that at all times, she needs some sort of external stimulation/support - me, her daddy, her brother, the dog, a book on CD, a friend - until she moves back into an emergent stage in her growth.

But guess what I've been doing?  Two or three times a week, I've been scheduling work time for myself that assumes the kids will play peacefully on their own. And how's that been going? Terribly.  Theo's off reading or doing legos or creating PVC pipe inventions and having a good old time, and Rosie's at my elbow whining and begging for ideas. Ideas she never takes my up on - because they are all projects for her to go off and do on her own. Duh!

Last Friday my neurological pathways finally connected - if she's non-emergent, scheduling time for emergent play will fail miserably. She'll be anxious and lonely, I'll be frustrated and behind on the work I want to do.  So I stopped asking her to play on her own.  Even before she started whining, I got out some projects we could do together and started working.  I put away my work that required me separating from her and got out things she could do with me or next to me, like cooking and fixing items around the house. I put on a movie for her when I really, really needed to concentrate on my computer for 30 minutes.

She lit up.  She's been so much more happy and relaxed.  There have been lots more hugs and kisses and fewer tantrums and hits.

Now that my experiment has a clear result, I need to figure out what to do about it.  Really, the question always seems to be, how do I meet everyone's needs?  How do I give Rosie the connection she needs and get the personal time that I crave?  Several ideas seem to keep coming to mind.
- Getting help from other adults to watch her so I can have focused work time rather than trying to steal minutes in the day. Daddy?  Housemate? Babysitter?
- Rosie's a very visual learner.  Maybe setting her up with educational videos wouldn't be the end of the world?
- Projects, projects, projects.  If I'm going to be present to her, I need something stimulating and fun to fill our time.  A few nights ago, I printed out 3 lapbooks I think we'll enjoy working on together.  I've also purchased Crafting Fun 101: 101 Things to Make and Do with Kids.  The book along with a box of related supplies will make a lovely, busy Christmas present for us together.

I'm feeling nervous that giving so much time and focus to Rosie will keep me from getting the personal time I want.  And yet, I'm confident that meeting her where she is really at right now will create so much more peace and rest in our home.  So I'm going to give it a try. And if kids grow the way they usually do, just about the time I get really good at providing generous amounts of attention for Rosie, she'll grow out of the need for it and long for time to play on her own.

Wouldn't that be sweet?


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