Thursday, August 27, 2009

On parenting

The students are back.

At Cornell, that is. Today is the first day of classes, and campus is abuzz with reunions, new books, busy professors, introductions, and everything else that accompanies a new school year. Last year, I clearly remember thinking what fun all these kids were having. The parties, the freedom, the interesting people and eye-opening ideas. When I was in college, I relished those days.

I had the same thought this year, but it was overshadowed by this one: Holy s***, A's going away to college someday. This year, I look at those freshman and think, "Be careful. Remember what your parents taught you. Have fun, but don't do anything too dangerous." (It sounds ridiculous, I know, but these are actually the thoughts going through my mind as I pass them in the Ag Quad.)

The students' arrival has underscored a thought - or maybe more of a feeling - that's been bouncing around in me for a few weeks now. The baby game is over. Paul and I are officially parents. I know, we were officially parents all along. But a newborn's requirements are simple: love, food and diaper changes. Now, I'm so acutely aware that I need to provide more than nourishment and love for this little guy. I want him to be confident, and independent, and happy-go-lucky, and not a brat. And it's really hard to figure out how to do all that well.

I think back to Tina Fey's acceptance speech at the 2008 Emmy's: "I thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well done. That is what all parents should do."

(Not that A isn't talented and good looking. But that, I think, is a really great way to look at parenting.)

Any way, all of this to say that I'm really digging the Montessori approach to infant- and toddler-hood these days. It makes so much sense to me. Especially the parts about giving your toddler responsibilities that make they feel like contributing members of the family. And the appreciation of music, and the arts and nature. So we're going to give that a try here starting with a few basic things. Sippy cups are only for going out. In the house, we'll use real cups. Toys are on a shelf were he can reach them on his own and learn to put them back too. And I'm working at a little table where he can sit down and have a snack or lunch. All this so that when it's A turn to go way to college, I can hopefully worry a little less. Hopefully.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And sleep with one eye open! I found that after becoming a mother, I never slept the deep sleep that I had before that time. It didn't go away even after they went off to college. I think now after 9 years I am finally sleeping and not thinking "where are the kids?" Give him boundaries and life lessons and let him fail. You can learn a lot from a failure once in awhile!
Miss you and A...Janet