While the title of this blog is Our Happy Place and I try to wear my rose coloured glasses whenever possible, truth be told, I'm a bit of a nervous Nellie. I freak out and call my doctor over innocuous medical symptoms. I read the news and imagine terrible things happening to me and my family. And, I yell at my husband when he pushes my daughter too high on the swing.
If I had my way, my whole family would live in a bubble where the sun always shines and everyone is always safe and happy.
I know we can't shelter our kids from the realities of the world forever. There are bad people who do horrible things. There are scary diseases that impact those we love. And, there are uncontrollable weather conditions that ravage homes and uproot lives. But, does a three-year-old really need to know about these things? I'm not so sure.
Do I want my sensitive and empathetic little girl exposed to the harsh realities of the world before she has to be? Do I want her little mind filled with thoughts of fear and worry? Absolutely not!
All of this has been circulating in my mind since I dropped her off at preschool this morning. Her classroom is a happy place filled with bright colours, friendly faces, and loving, creative teachers. While she's already encountered some of life's challenges in the school yard in the form of: "so-and-so didn't want to play with me," or "so-and-so wouldn't share her doll" these are what I consider to be the normal concerns of a three-year-old.
But what greeted us when we walked into the classroom this morning, was a bit more off-putting. Granted we were a bit late and we caught the lesson out of context, but when we arrived, her teacher was showing the class a video clip of the Oklahoma tornado. She was talking about the scary weather, the people without homes, the strength of the winds. I know my daughter was listening (though she was also fumbling to put on her indoor shoes while I applied sunscreen). But this kid hears everything!
Suddenly, I had an urge to sweep her up in my arms, cover her ears, and run out of the room. I wanted to protect my baby from the devastating news coming out of Oklahoma and everywhere else in the world.
This is why I don't watch the news. This is why we avoid showing her movies with "bad guys." I don't want her to lie in bed at night afraid of what might happen. I don't want her to know fear at such a young age.
While reality dictates that there will be times when I have to explain things to my daughter that won't be easy, I'd rather wait until absolutely necessary to shatter her childhood innocence.
Why not let preschool be a place where she learns how to play, how to sing, how to dance, and how to be a kid. Life goes way too quickly and kids grow up way too fast...why not prolong childhood as long as possible?
That's my take on the whole thing anyway. And, it seems my Facebook network feels the same way. I posted my concern from my phone this morning and before I got back to my computer I already had 11 comments. Moms who were outraged and those who suggested I see the principal right away.
I've opted for a softer approach. I sent a nice email to my daughter's teacher to find out why she chose to share this info with the kids. She responded quite eloquently saying that a student had come into class this morning talking about tornados and it was a subject they had addressed in a weather and science unit in the winter. She wrote: "We try to incorporate children's questions in to our learning to support their desires to learn and to feel valued in our class." While this makes complete sense, I'm still not sure how I feel.
I do believe that we can't baby our kids forever. And, we can't keep them in the dark when it comes to important matters. I have many adult-like conversations with my daughter. She really gets it. She's aware of what's going on around her. And she's really sensitive to how others are feeling.
She'll have her whole life to learn to cope with fear. She'll have her whole life to learn to control her thoughts. She'll have her whole life to decide what she wants to focus on and what she'd rather tune out. She'll have her whole life to feel sadness for those who are suffering and decide what she wants to do to help.
For now, I just want her to be three. I want her to dream of princesses and lollypops and rainbows. I want her to sing in the shower. To reach for the sky. To believe in magic and wear her rose-coloured glasses. The rest will come. But it can wait!