Friday, November 13, 2015

That Future Child Does Not Exist



































I have spent my adult life trying to figure out why parents and society put themselves into a race -- what's the hurry? I keep trying to convey the pleasure every parent and teacher could feel while observing, appreciating and enjoying what the infant is doing. This attitude would change our educational climate from worry to joy. ~Magda Gerber


It seems to me that the greatest gift we can give to other people is to let them know we love them just as they are. That we've all heard this before in some version or other makes it no less profound and no less precious.


I think that's what we do when we simply let ourselves be with young children, without that sense of possession or protectiveness or responsibility that too often attends our interactions. It's in those moments of two humans simply being together that we convey this vital knowledge of unwavering love to even the youngest children, who themselves are then permitted to be, without the obligations that come with being possessed, protected, or a responsibility.


I'm grateful to such blog-o-sphere guides as Janet Lansbury and Lisa Sunbury who continue to educate me about the ideas of Magda Gerber, and it's this idea of sincerely and carefully observing (what I think I have previously understood incompletely as "waiting") that resonates the most with me. But this observation is an essentially academic act, I think, without our own appreciation and joy in what the infant is doing or what we are doing together. Not only do we ourselves come to a deeper understanding of the child, but it's only through this heartfelt appreciation and joy that we actually convey to children the unconditional love that is our gift.


It may seem strange, I suppose, for many of us to understand that we, at best, stand on the planet as equals with all the other people, including young children. We are each fully formed, fully valid, fully functional human beings no matter our age. Naturally, we have different lots in life, different blessings and challenges, and are on our way to different places, but we always remain, most of all, worthy of being loved for being exactly who we are.


Parents and teachers traditionally see our role as helpers, instructors or guides; agents for moving young children through the world from point A to point B along their developmental track, ticking off milestones in baby books or report cards like we might a shopping list, taking pride in each "accomplishment." We can't help but look ahead, to anticipating the next destination, worrying about the next bumpy patch, feeling guilty about our failings when we lose our way or fall behind schedule. It makes us impatient, lead-footed, prone to live outside the present moment as we move relentlessly toward a future. We forget to just be with our children as they are right now. That future child does not exist: this is the real child, the one before you right now, and she is perfect.


We are, in fact, at our best when we manage to successfully override those urges to help, instruct, or otherwise guide a young person and instead give him the space and time to struggle, to practice, to come to his own conclusions. This, not our superior experience or intellect, is the great gift we have to give to children: to stop, to really see who they are right now, and be with them in appreciation and joy, loving them just as they are.




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8 comments:

Chris Chandler said...

I love this article. And really the thinking applies to everyone, doesn't it?

John S Green said...

One my favorites (and I have many) of all your posts.

Jenny Mitchell said...

I totally agree! My favorite thing to do is sit back and watch...or sometimes join in while children play and create. There are days that I feel like my kids in the Pre-K class are on the last stop on the happiness train before things get too adult-centered. I hope this isn't the case...!

charmian said...

Thank you for this. I saw this blog post through a Facebook link right after I was very moved to write something related to this, on Facebook. It makes me feel that I'm not alone in this battle to appreciate children and adults alike as who they are. Thank you again for this post. (:

Anonymous said...

I am going to re-read this post daily. How do you always manage to put into words exactly what I'm learning as an educator?

Mary Wessel said...

Thank you, Teacher Tom. I truly needed this post!

هبل في هبل said...


شات مزز الصوتي
موقع سايت اب
شات سعودي توب
شات روقان الصوتي
سوق السعوديه الالكتروني
سوق عرب كوم
موقع معلومات قوقل
شات الرياض الصوتي

Greg said...

Thank you Teacher Tom for sharing about the importance of being available but not interfering in the work of the child. All the worry and effort that goes into the future takes away from the beauty of the now.
Being present and grateful for the moment is all he moment is asking for.

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