Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Little Bird

There are times (not many, these days, but some) when I still question whether I should have Willow in preschool, at least part-time, and whether I am doing her a disservice by keeping her home with me all the time--by not getting her socialized and used to interacting with other kids for most of every day, by not helping her to be independent of me, by not helping her to learn to follow what the group is doing.  I mean, I do try to do those things--we have playdates, she spends one morning a week on a mom-free playdate, and we have always spent one morning a week at a class in which she is expected to go along with the group (whether she actually does go along is another story).  But I'm not always sure it's enough--should she be learning to read?  Because I'm not having much luck with that.  Maybe peer pressure would help with potty-training?  Because oh my God something has to.

And then there are times, like yesterday, when I am certain beyond anything, that right now in this moment, my child has everything she could possibly need, and that right now it would emphatically be doing her a disservice to give her any more structure than she already has.

Willow's love of birds has not gone unmentioned here.  I have never cared about birds, and now I can tell you waaaay more things about birds than I ever wanted to know.  We got a new operating system on our computer so that we could get an app with bird calls on it--that totally didn't work out, but we did find an old book of Dave's from when he was a kid that has full-color illustrations of common North American birds, along with phonetic approximations of their calls.  Willow is quickly memorizing them, and has chosen birds for each of us--she is most often the Downy Woodpecker, I am the Yellow-Shafted Flicker, Dave is the Catbird, RockNoodle is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, and Toaster is the Grackle (the reasoning behind this is unclear.  It took her a very long time to settle on what my bird should be, and I think the Flicker was chosen because it's on the same page as the Woodpecker.  RockNoodle's middle name is Ruby, but Dave is not particularly catlike, and certainly not a cat-bird-combo, and Willow is scared of the Grackle's call, but adores Toaster....go figure).

 Yesterday we played a game where I turned to the first page of the book, waved a magic wand, and turned Willow into a Song Sparrow.  At which point she flew around the house shouting "Maids maids maids put on your tea kettle-ettle-ettle!"--which, according to Leon Hausman, is what song sparrows say.  And then she was a Mockingbird, and a Robin, and Purple Martin, and so on for thirty birds.  It was hilarious and delightful and oh so wonderful to witness--the focus, the learning for the joy of it, the fun, and the absolute concentration on the task at hand.

While I can't deny that I, personally, find reading more interesting and valuable than being a bird, to a three-year-old, everything is potentially interesting, and she has her whole life to learn what other people think is important.  She is deeply passionate about birds, and I would never have known that--and maybe she would never have known that if she hadn't been allowed to explore things on her own terms.  She may not be able to point to the letter K on a page, but her vocabulary is enormous.   She is kind and loving and independent and bossy and curious and intelligent and funny and wonderfully imaginative.  And I love being around her.

So there may be a tiny bit of self-indulgence in keeping her home with me.  Just a bit.


tresa said...

I decided long ago (my son is 30) to do what made us happy. The real world will always be there and you will have beautiful memories.

Renee Anne said...

Part of me thinks being in preschool can't compare to having your child at home...but part of me knows that some kids really need to be in preschool, if only for learning about social conventions in the presence of their peers, as opposed to their parents.

Also, if it helps, going to daycare is what made me stop wearing diapers. I came home after a day or two, stood in the middle of the living room, took my diaper off, told my mom I was done, and that was that. Yes, I had a couple accidents but seeing my peers, none of whom were in diapers (not even the 2 year olds), doing their thing...that did it for me. I was 3 years old.

Tina said...

Have you thought about a co-op preschool?? Is there one in your area that you could visit.
I had my son in one for 3 years (2 yrs-4.5 yrs old) and it was great. Class a couple times a week, open play, some regimented curriculum. It really sounds as though it would work out for your family.

Nikki Van De Car said...

Well, um, mostly what I was saying was that the conclusion that I've reached is that I don't actually think I want to put her in preschool, or that she needs to be in one. That is, not until she's four, when we have one all picked out.

Kitty said...

Staying at home with your child is wonderful. Having your child in preschool can be wonderful. As a mom who works - but who stayed home for a while with my oldest - I feel like I see the advantages of both sides. And I cringe slightly at your blanket statement that there's no way she would have learned (insert any special interest of a child) in preschool. Ours is very unregimented - loads of free time, loads of books, blocks, puzzles, dress up materials, art materials, and on and on - so I feel like he is free to explore whatever strikes his fancy. He knows all his letters, but he did 18 months ago, too. Learning to actually read comes much later, like in kindergarten.

Anyway, you are making the right choice for you and Willow. You are not doing her a disservice. Nor am I doing my child a disservice by having him in preschool.

Nikki Van De Car said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikki Van De Car said...

Kitty--Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You're right, and I think there's probably a bit of trying-to-convince-myself going on. My sister-in-law (who is also home with her kids) gave me a bit of a smackdown on my lack of knowledge of preschools. I think I should probably reframe the post as--I love my kid. I love being home with my kid--whether or not it is indeed the best thing, though I think it is. And I mean that for myself and my kid only.

Tina said...

I'm sorry, I thought you weren't quite sure what you wanted to do. Wasn't trying to be pushy.
As as per your last comment, only you and Dave know exactly what is best for Willow. And she looks like she's doing great and having a good time doing it.
Have a good day.