Let me take you on a journey….
Picture yourself in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (the original one!). Imagine walking through the fields of edible flowers, with Oompa Loompa’s frolicking around you…
Or if you prefer, go to Narnia. Walk through the wardrobe and imagine walking through the woods and coming across talking animals who are half human…
Are you there? Great! Now imagine your Mum in the background somewhere saying “come on, bit faster” “hold my hand” “don’t touch that” “come out of there”.
Are you still there? Are you still soaking up all the strange newness around you? If you are, are you paying any attention to the instructions coming in waves? No, me either.
If I was in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, I would be licking that wall paper without any thought of how many people had licked it before me and the hygiene risks! So why do we expect children to be different?
Ok let’s put this in slightly more realistic terms – have you ever been to a museum or gallery or on a factory tour, where somebody is talking about all the things you can see and do. Did you really take it all in? I remember going to an exhibition at the V&A when I was a student and being so in awe at some of the exhibits that I doubt I was listening to anything my tutors were saying. I just wanted to experience the works of art for myself, I wanted to look at them and touch them. I’m the same with shopping. I hate when shop assistants try to help me and tell me what would suit me or what I might like – I just want to look and feel the clothes. That’s how I’ll know if I like them or not.
Well don’t you know that’s what life is like to young children? Our familiar world is as unusual and exciting to them as Willy Wonka’s factory or Narnia would be to us. I’m realising that, even at age 3, there are so many things our girls are seeing and experiencing for the first time and yet we expect them to consistently behave in a way that is attentive and ‘good’!
This occurred to me recently when we took the girls to a working Victorian village. We’d given a brief explanation of it being about “life in the olden days” but neglected to realise that our acceptance of this strange village came with years of education and an understanding of history and time – past, present, future, etc, and that things change over time. Haha and we expected them to get all of that with “ah this is life in the olden days”?! When our girls find themselves in unfamiliar circumstances, they get shy and their shyness can come across as being awkward or unwilling to cooperate. So whilst we’re willing them to have fun, we end up with quite a different picture and all because we haven’t put ourselves in their shoes and realised that this might be exciting, scary, overwhelming or simple brain overload for them! By the end of the day, as more explanation had come from us, they had a great time. But the next time we go somewhere new, I’m going to try to remember to offer more preparation upfront and to allow them that first half hour or so to acclimatise.
But I think this happens in everyday life too. After weeks of complaining to MuMan that I feel like a broken record all the time, feeling like I spend my days repeating the same things over and over, I realised that sometimes, when I ask the girls to do something, they’re already in the middle of doing something. Have you ever been in the middle of reading a book or watching the tv or doing something, and somebody shouts to you from another room and asks you to do something completely different? Wouldn’t you finish the page you’re reading before you responded – if you indeed registered the request at all? In fact, wouldn’t you be a bit annoyed at the interruption? So why do we expect our children to jump to it when they’re in the middle of playing a game or reading a book? I think we need to allow our kids the same respect we would want.
Now I know that most of the time they’ll always be doing something when you need them to do something else. So now I’m trying a different tactic. Rather than hollering at them from a different room and then getting annoyed when they ignore me, I’ll go to them, get down on their level and then ask them, first, to listen to me. Then I give them the instructions. Only then can I have the right to get frustrated if they don’t carry them out because at least I’ve checked that they were actually listening to me. My poor kids have been accused so many times of ignoring me when they probably never even registered I’d spoken in the first place!
This month at MuMag
Did you get your invite to MuMan’s meeting? Don’t be late now, the agenda might start without you…
For MuMotivation, it’s all about the girls this month and for MuMatriarch it’s all about the maths! We’ve given MuMystery a break this month as she in the midst of some exams but she’ll be back next month with her ‘teen take’ on something you need to know about.
In MuMultinational this month we’re sharing a great need with you – help save a little girls eyes and life by donating whatever you can afford.
We’ve also been celebrating MuMar’s Birthday today which means it’s also MuMag’s, so I truly hope you’ve enjoyed reading our first 12 months’ articles and will continue to love what we’ve got to come. Don’t forget to comment with your thoughts and if you’d like to turn your thoughts into something longer – why not send us something we can publish in MuYou?
Happy Snowy Spring everyone!