Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Daughter's 4-year-old Teacher

Week one of Summer –for my preschool daughter, that is. During these few weeks between when preschool ends and the elementary schools break for the summer, I have traditionally turned to traditional camps to offer enrichment, education, and (let’s be honest here) babysitting services for my energetic and still- clingy youngest child before “real” summer kicks in and we can go somewhere.

This year, those camps were not in the budget, so she is left with just ME. Sadly, “just ME” right now is fresh out of creativity, energy, and time to devote solely to her. I have SO MUCH to do before the school year ends and have horrified myself at how often I’ve turned to suggesting “just watching a little show” as a quality activity in order to buy myself some time…and peace.

Then a friend asked if I could watch her daughter for a morning, and the world changed.

In an instant, my daughter was immersed in a world of adventure, make-believe, and creativity. Our neglected sandbox became an exotic beach. Old dishes serviced a formal Japanese tea ceremony. Tuned-out classical music from NPR inspired an elaborately choreographed ballet recital.

In the remaining 2 hours, my daughter had an art lesson, a fashion consultation, a lecture on butterflies, linguistic training, a yoga class, a guided imagery exercise, and a model-parenting seminar.

I did none of these things. It was all done by the friend.

This 4-year-old’s fresh perspective and appreciation for our toys, plus her unique interests, talents, and creativity served as the best teacher, coach, motivator, and babysitter for my daughter imaginable. My daughter did, thought, liked, appreciated, and conjured up things she never would have done on her own, in a structured environment, or, most of all…with me.

Yes, I had to occasionally wipe a bottom, hydrate and feed when necessary, or help with a tricky zipper, but other than that and staying within sight, I did absolutely nothing...but write, concentrate, file, email, and congratulate myself on my amazing parenting skills.

And to think her mother thanked ME when she picked her little girl up!

So, don’t feel guilty if the money isn’t there this year for camps, classes, and elaborate enrichment activities. Just see if any of your neighbors need a favor…