I never let my kids cry - I just couldn’t do it. I once went against my intuition, I went to get my infant son who was fussing in his bassinet and my Dad again (honest he was a good Dad), said just leave him, he will be ok, when I finally relented and picked my son up he had peed all up the side of his sleepers - I was new to boys and didn’t realize that when that thing pointed up the pee could leak out the top of the diaper.
I never let my kids cry without finding the source of the cry and I always consoled them, or now I understand I was teaching them to regulate. And, not to brag (ok maybe a little because it is safe to now that the children I own are 17 and 20) but my children did not have temper tantrums. I wondered how I got off easy - even the terrible twos weren’t bad, although when my daughter was three she said that she was “free,” my come back was, “yes she is free, but you will bring her back.”
Teaching came naturally to me. When I graduated at the young age of 40, my brother-in-law said, “Michelle, we’ve always known you were a teacher.” I have known him since were were in high school. And I have to admit he is right, I naturally default to teaching in almost every situation - my 20 year old now stops me, and I have to catch myself, he doesn’t want my teaching - and I’m ok with that. I trust I have taught him what he needs to know.
My son taught me one of the best lessons and I use it daily in my teaching. He was in kindergarten and a very social kid - he loved to go to school. On picture day he was adamant, he wasn’t going to school. I was puzzled, he wasn’t sick, he didn’t have a bad experience, he just wasn’t going. As I quizzed him, I realized he was fearful of picture day, it was his first, it was going to disrupt the “regular” day and he was fearful of the unknown. So I walked/talked him through the day. I said, “you will line up in your class, you will walk down to the gym, you will wait in line, then you will sit on a box, the photographer will turn you this way and that way, and then you will walk back to your class.” I literally finished this explanation and he said, “Ok, I’ll go.” I had taken away the “unknown,” painted a picture for him, made it known and he was ok with it. Think about situations you have been in. The fear of the unknown is very scary and hard to overcome. That is why so many people are stuck in a rut - they can’t step out of the known. They didn’t have someone to walk them home and let them know they will be ok.
Because of my experience with Ethan on that picture day way back in 2006, I post a Daily Agenda on my class webpage. Our daily agenda serves two purposes. The first, I sit down with the class first thing in the morning and explain what the whole day looks like. Think about it, you probably like to know what is going on with your day, their day shouldn't be kept a secret from them. I have explicit directions in the agenda so they can be as independent as possible in our class. Secondly, I post a daily agenda that is on my class website, that all parents and relatives can have access to. Let me tell you the love, sweat and tears I have poured into my class website have paid dividends during this pandemic. My son again taught me that parents need conversation starters. He would come home after being away from me for about 8 hours and his day was “good” and they did “nothing” in school. That was it. No explanation. Good. Nothing. Good Grief! By posting our detailed, daily agenda on line, parents can access and then have conversation starters. “I see you are reading The Breadwinner, what is that book about?” “In Science Mrs. Watt posted you were starting a new unit, tell me about that.”
It is simple. But I would not have thought of it if I didn't have to regulate Ethan. It wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have to walk him home. For that, I am grateful.
That's My View from the 86th Pew,