Thursday, March 04, 2010

Letting them grow

It is very enlightening having a baby and teenagers at the same time. I know I have stated this previously, but the moments of enlightenment just keep multiplying.

For instance, last week, I had Melanie down in my basement icon workshop. Before I knew it, she had high-tailed it up the stairs. We live in a ranch house, so she had not encountered any stairs previously. But up she went, as if she had always known how. Now this staircase is right off my (and her) bedroom door. It is part of our addition, and is quite lovely, wide, sunny, and thankfully, has carpeted stairs.

Prior to her stair climbing expedition, Melanie had always crawled right by the stairs. She never took note of them, and kept crawling down the hall, usually to the doll house.


But not anymore. Now she knows there is something intriguing about those stairs, and she is bound and determined to find out more about them. Sadly, she doesn't possess an innate knowledge of how to go down stairs, and when I closely observed how she attempted such a feat, it was head first. She didn't make it even to the first step, because I moved her. But I knew that I had better teach her how to go down the stairs safely, because I wouldn't be able to keep her away from them forever.

So I moved her feet first, and showed her how to go down backwards. At first she just screamed and tried to turn around. After a few times of almost falling (of course I was right there to prevent it) she conceded to turn back around.

Before too long, she had the hang of it, except after going down a stair or two, she would sit back in satisfaction, expecting floor to be there, and since it is a stair case, there was nothing there. Again, of course I was there to prevent her from falling, but I could see the lessons must continue, I must be there with her for some time, and with time, she will successfully and safely be able to navigate these stairs.

As I was doing this task with Melanie, I was thinking about my older children, and my responsibility to do the same for them. They have begun to notice parts of the world that previously they "crawled right by". I need to show them how to navigate these new waters, and I can't just explain something to them once and call it a day. I need to show them, supervise their attempts until I feel secure they can safely and successfully handle it themselves. Sadly the job isn't as easy or as obvious with them as it is with Melanie, but it is a responsibility and a need, indeed a privilege, just the same.

2 Comments:

Anonymous heidi said...

Yeah, I've noticed that it's getting way scarier to be a parent now that I have teens. Sometimes I feel the panic creeping over me!! But I look to you for guidance because you're about two steps ahead of me. Not to pressure you or anything! ;)

March 05, 2010  
Blogger Margaret Mary Myers said...

While I did follow your whole progression here, which as usual was really well-said, I want to go back to the particular. When my youngest was little, we had just moved to an area where houses had stairs. Our neighbor told us: Don't put up a gate; watch him, and teach him how to go up and down the stairs. So that's what we did. It's cool to see you using that same method. And Yes, I guess that can be applied allegorically to older kids too.

March 05, 2010  

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