Tuesday, October 04, 2011
Full or Half?
Lately I've been troubled by how distracted I am when I'm with my seven-year-old son, and how I haven't been wanting to spend time engaging with him. It's been hard for me to bring myself to spend time with him doing what he wants to do. I'd rather be accomplishing household tasks, reading, or doing email and Facebook, etc. I've felt dragged down by moving through the evening routine of after-school activity, dinner, cleanup, homework, bedtime. I've wanted to be free of parental responsibility and get on with my own tasks, interests and pursuits. It IS difficult to know that I won't get to those things, MY things, until I'm almost too tired and out of oomph for them late in the evening. But I don't want to live in a distracted state of internal and external conflict between his wants and needs and mine.
I work with young children in two different settings, one in a play studio for children ages 2-8 and one in a small, in-home Montessori morning program for ages 12-24 months. My Montessori "boss" gave me a book to read about caring for infants with respect. I started out reading it only because I had to, but I was eager to "get it out of the way" and get back to material I really wanted to read. However, it has been a very pleasant surprise to discover that it might be exactly what I need to be reading right now. Its pace has slowed me down, helped me take a deep breath and given me much food for thought and reflection. It's written for parents or caregivers caring for infants, but it is so applicable to working with older children as well.
The portion that leaped off the page and spoke to me today is:
"'Unbusy' your head and 'unbusy' your body. Be fully there, interested in only your baby for that time...
If you pay half attention all the time, that's never full attention. [Your child is then] always half hungry for attention. But if you pay full attention part of the time, then you go a long way."
This evening, I hope to call these words to mind and choose to unbusy myself for a few minutes and give Knox my FULL attention. Instead of saying "not right now," "maybe later," "in a moment," or "I have work to do," maybe I can just stop for a few minutes and say, "Sure!", thereby communicating to him that I am interested in him and that he is worthy of my attention. And maybe if I can do that this evening and again the next evening and even on Saturday afternoon, maybe his chirp for attention will diminish a bit because he will no longer need to clamor for it. Maybe??! We'll see...
(The book is called "Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect" by Magda Gerber, Resources for Infant Educarers)