Please don’t talk about my kids in front of them Recognizing childism in our everyday lives

“We ask that you do not talk about your children in front of them without including them in the conversation. If you need to talk alone with teachers, make arrangements to talk without your child present.”

This quote is taken from the handbook of my children’s wonderful, progressive preschool.  It is a wonderful policy, and the kids truly are included in conversations if they are there.  The teachers speak to the children in real voice, not the squeaky, sing-songy voices often reserved by adults for preschoolers.  Children are respected in this place like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Which is why what I saw at our public school the other day bothered me.  It wasn’t my son’s kindergarten teacher, but another of the 3 kindergarten teachers in his building.  Someone I know was picking up her daughter from school.  She and I were chatting as we waited for pickup and she said her daughter has been having a hard time separating lately when it’s time for school and that it’s been really hard.

When the teacher came out, she mouthed to my friend “she was okay” and gave her a thumbs up.  My friend greeted her daughter and they prepared to walk home.  But then the teacher walked over to her to talk some more.   Mother and daughter were standing side by side, and the teacher started off facing them and whispering.  So the daughter moved in closer.  And then the teacher moved to block the child’s body.  The teacher pushed the girl backward by moving her body into the girl’s space, so she could talk to her mother about her.  The little girl stuck her head in the middle of the two adults, and the teacher moved closer to the mother again to block her out.

My son’s interpretation of being blocked out of a conversation. I love the child’s head poking through 🙂

I know many people will not take offense at this story.  But it was offensive to me, and I’m sure to the child.  This poor 5-year old was being physically blocked out of a conversation by a teacher she is supposed to trust to take care of her for many hours each day.    She knows they were talking about her, or at least about something she wanted to hear.  It shows a total disregard for the child as a person.  Imagine doing that to two of your friends.  How is this situation any different?

What she could do instead

It isn’t hard to imagine the possibilities.  The teacher could email, call, or text the parent.  Unless there is a threat of imminent danger, the adult conversation can wait until a better time.

Childism is alive and well.  Many people wouldn’t give this scenario a second thought.  We need to notice the lack of respect given to children in our everyday lives and routines. It is the first step toward improving the situation.

Choosing a relaxed weekend in the middle of the holiday season

It is the second weekend in December.  Christmas is two weeks from today.  And we did absolutely nothing holiday-related this entire weekend.  It was wonderful.

Last weekend we went to see a children’s production of The Nutcracker.  It was inexpensive, and advertised to be an hour-long show, so it sounded perfect.  In actuality, it was two hours with no intermission.  It was at 11 am and we planned on lunch after.  Instead we left at one, with two bored and starving kids, who proceeded to have meltdown after meltdown all afternoon.  It was not a pleasant day.

This weekend, there are even more holiday events happening.  Theater, ballet, symphony, train expos, holiday lights events, parties, and more.  I could have packed our schedule full, like many of our friends did.  But I didn’t.

What we did with our weekend instead

Friday night we had pizza and watched a movie and the kids played.  On Saturday, the kids played and we did some cleaning and work at home before going out for an early dinner.  Sunday, the kids played in the first snow of the season, had hot cocoa, and played more.  We got a few things done around the house to feel better about the busy weeks ahead.

weekend cocoa in holiday mugs
The most holiday thing we did all weekend. Cocoa in holiday mugs 🙂

All weekend I’ve been getting texts from friends saying how they are so busy with events, and about their kids being unhappy during said events.  I’m really glad we aren’t participating.

After snow play
Our yard after the snow play. Not much snow left!

But aren’t holiday traditions important?

Don’t get me wrong.  We have plenty of holiday traditions, and we will do more this holiday season.  Family traditions are important for children.  But so is plenty of time for free play.  And plenty of unstructured time away from school and structured activities.  They aren’t miniature adults, and don’t always find events fun and relaxing the way we can.  In fact, for my kiddo with sensory “stuff,” events are often hard work.  New situations are hard for him, and new smells, loud sounds, and big events require a lot from him.  As adults, it’s easy to see it all through our adult lenses and forget that children’s needs are different.

It’s also easy to forget that December seems to have its own buzz.  A hum of energy about it, with everyone being busy and feeling like there is so much to get done and so much fun to be had.  Adults help feed the buzz, and kids get swept up in it, too.  My kids are already amped up on the very thought of Christmas and general holiday excitement.  Add to that changing schedules and different events, at home and at school, and they deserve the chance to have a mellow, relaxed weekend.  They are much happier than they were last weekend when we were so very go, go, go.

Our relaxing weekend has been so great.  I’m once again reminded that going against the flow, rather than being swept up in it, can be such a great choice to make.