I read something on Facebook and now I can't find it for the life of me. Maybe I dreamt it. It spoke to the guilt complex that drives me, whispers in my ear and taunts me all day, every day as I "rule my daycare world".
This little memo on Facebook (or my guilty imagination) went something like this: "Two year olds don't sit still; two year olds don't share; two year olds don't do about a million (okay, maybe only five) other things that I try to teach my two year olds to do and say each and every daycare day."
It went on to say that two year olds need to explore and climb and touch everything and basically all of the things I let my two year olds (and younger and older) do in a very controlled environment.
I read this and was consumed with something akin to guilt but it came off more as an accusing rebuttal to each and every point I read on the original post.
Do I really expect too much of my little people?
I tell them almost each and every day. "Your job is to be kind to each other and to be happy", it is as simple (and as hard) as that. I guess I should add "And don't break my house or my toys while you are being kind and happy".
I have limits and guidelines and no-kid-zones. I discourage running, screaming and rough housing in the house. Even outside, I like a "hands off" rule when it comes to kids man handling each other.
Do I micromanage my days? Possibly so. Do I make myself crazy while doing so? Probably. Do I have to do what I do and how I do it, to ensure we are all still standing at the end of the day? I believe this is my truth.
I've had parents question little bumps, bruises and scratches. I like to see with my own eyes what is happening throughout the day so I can explain any imperfection a parent may notice.
I have turned my back and had children "go wild" and climb toys that were never meant to be climbed and throw things that I have found in places where no toy should be found and someone ends up crying and I don't know the whole story and about a million other things.
So yes, I do my best to be 100% accountable but it is impossible to see all, know all and do all when you have five little people running about the house, so I have rules and expectations. I have a lot of rules.
I have another little motto when it comes to sharing "Just because you are bigger and stronger, doesn't mean you always win". I don't think a two year old should grab a toy from a four year old any more than I think the reverse is acceptable (when I am not watching, of course).
I miss so very many of these indiscretions that I'm sure it would make my head spin. Almost-four-year-olds seem to be notorious for being sneaky and I simply don't trust what I do not see.
The best I can do is have the same rules in place for all. Whether you are "one" or "two" or "four", you must be kind and try to be happy (aka: save crying for emergencies, not as a manipulative ploy). I don't want anyone to put toys in their mouth or standing/jumping on or off the furniture or bullying another or walking around the house with food or drink or a vast number of other house rules.
I need to keep all of my little people safe and contained within my reach. And I need to know my furniture and belongings will still be standing at the end of a daycare year.
Then there is the "sitting still" part.
Even I feel very odd if all of my kids are too still and too quiet. It is not natural. But it is necessary and a very good way to wind down into nap time, to be still and quiet as a part of our routine to lull their little brains and bodies into a restful state.
The same goes at meal time. Meals are a time when I insist on a calm and regulated atmosphere. There is a "no choking allowed" rule here and it is one I enforce within ounce of my control. Small bites. Chew and chew and chew and swallow before you take the next. No goofing around while you are eating. Manners, manners, manners. Yes, I do expect my little people to adhere to those rules too. Whether they are a year or twelve years. Meal time is not a time to be monkeying around.
I am such a grinch. I have such high expectations of my little daycare family. I am so busy supervising and monitoring and guiding that I forget to smile some days.
I have a little tape which rewinds and replays each and every daycare day. Be kind, be happy. Not just the kids. Me too!
Do better, be better, do as much as you can. Keep these children safe and happy and fed and rested and (relatively) clean.
I do what I do, so my parents can pick up their children intact at the end of the day. I just hope these guys are happy too.
Do I expect too much?
When the parent of my new one-year-old gazed at amazement when he saw his little guy sitting still at a little picnic table, with a (plastic) glass of water at the day's end he said, "He never sits like that! In fact, we've noticed a real difference in him since he started coming here. He sits and eats breakfast too ..."
I think this little guy was raised in a no "NO" zone before. They placed snacks in a place where he could graze and eat all day. He fell asleep on the couch when he was tired. Just by watching his mom with him (when he was trying to play with an electrical cord which I have securely attached to a table leg to keep it out harm's way), letting him explore and gently telling him "don't do that", but watching him do it anyway ... I am thinking that my way is so very different than their way.
Is that a bad thing?
Any time I feel a parent look at me in a manner which makes me question myself, I tell them I have to be strict. Because if I wasn't and had five kids "doing what they want to do", it would not be good for anyone.
I agree. Two year olds do not want to share or sit still and they do grab toys and like to climb on everything.
But isn't it our job to guide them into learning to share and sitting still at appropriate times and steering them towards places where they are allowed to climb, and encouraging appropriate behaviours so we can take them out in public?
I berate myself so much throughout my daycare days, that I do not appreciate these little "words of wisdom" to come and taunt me into believing I'm even worse than I thought I was. The truth of the matter, is that the reason these words struck such a chord within me is because I feel like I'm expecting too much of these guys. Or am I?
That is the question. Facebook, would you like to answer that one for me as well?