Hidden Treasures of Learning and Love in your Toddler’s Everyday by Paula Gautreau
Hidden Treasures of Learning and Love in your Toddler’s Everyday
The spicy waft of ground cinnamon tickling noses as day begins. The clank of the turkey roaster sliding from cupboard to kitchen floor in the busy bustle of mid-day. The snowy white lather of thousands of tiny shampoo bubbles as the sun sets. The echoes of a croupy cough in the wee hours of the morning, as weary eyed little one and big one snuggle in for the comforting distraction of a favorite tale. What are these random and unrelated things? These are the everyday threads that have woven themselves into the beautiful patchwork quilt of my daughter’s learning and unwavering knowledge that she is much loved. They are the memory threads I cherish more and more as I watch how they have weaved themselves into the fabric of who she will become. They are the lifelines that will guide her back to celebrate joys or seek comfort from pain whenever she needs.
As parents we strive to achieve balance between our sense of “have to” and “want to.” We have a picture of “whom” and “how” we want to be, or not be, both as a person and a parent. This picture changes from day to day…experience to experience. By times, we live a sense of falling short of this vision. Both as a parent and as a professional with many years of experience in the field of family & early childhood education, I too have lived this sense of falling short many times over. This being said, I have a personal and professional message to share with each of you and to use as a reminder for myself. While we wish to provide our children with all we did, or perhaps did not have, as children…fantastic toys, a beautiful home, a happy healthy parent, special outings, financial stability, precious gifts, extraordinary trips or whatever it may be, at the end of the day, the simplicity of truly being “present” and sharing in moments of their everyday, is the gift of learning and love that will go the longest way. It will not be what your child “had” but their sense of “how they were and are valued by you” that will count most.
Ask yourself who you are closest to, know you can trust and go to when you are in need. I am confident you will choose those who have shared everyday ups, downs and even boredoms with you. They are those who have listened, comforted and shown they care when you have had joy or pain. They are not necessarily those who “fix” things, but simply show they are prepared to support and be “with” you.
As you face each new day of your parenting adventure, I encourage you to breathe and take it all in. Enrich your child’s language and breakfast memories by inviting them to add a “dash” of cinnamon and “swirl” a “smooth wooden” spoon in the pot of oatmeal. Allow a roaster to be hauled from a cupboard and transformed into make-shift ocean with a towel for a beach, where plastic animals can come to life diving, swimming, chasing and chatting, while you get supper preparation underway. Shift the “chore” of hair washing into a massaging and lathering experiment where a foamy mass can be transformed into a lion’s mane or a magical unicorn horn and be reflected in a mirror to share a moment of laughter and glee. When faced with a long sleepless night, smooth the way with pillows, blankets, snuggles and sharing tales of how it was growing up in your day.
Allow yourself to use the common threads of the “everyday” to weave your child’s own beautiful quilt of learning and unwavering sense of love.