Monday, June 16, 2014

In Their Natural Habitat

"I think we can! I think we can! I think we can!"

This has been our mantra for the past couple of weeks. We are in the slow climb to the last day of school (9 days, but who's counting?). We've been in survival mode. Git 'er done, eye on the prize, push through the pain mentality. But as we've slogged through portfolios, crammed for tests and scrambled to finish up projects we also enjoyed a few rare moments of fun and organized chaos in the form of field trips.

Mr. Awesome and I both have been able to attend a couple of field trips during the last few week and while we had moments of terror (like when I was the only adult sitting at the back of the school bus for a two hour ride) for the most part our trip pin' days were fun and educational. Sure, we learned more about our local government, fossil discovery in our province and just how many windows to open on a school bus to combat preteen musk without creating a hurricane force wind tunnel as you drive down the highway but mostly we learned about our kids and how they interact with their world. And some of the findings surprised us.

They aren't extroverts. They aren't exactly introverts either but seriously, I was a little surprised to see that all three of The Wee Ones were more reserved than I expected. Crafty is always more cautious and watchful in new situations but I was genuinely shocked to see that Mischief reacted exactly the same way as his sister. He is usually our go-getter but field trip day, parent day and track day all saw my Wee Wild Child hang back a bit and let others take the lead. He still had fun and was part of the group but he was no longer the kid out front - and that's okay.

They're okay with flying solo. All three Wee Ones have some really great friends but all three of them are fine with doing their own thing alone if no one else wants to join them. Sometimes, their are disappointed that their friends aren't with them but that doesn't stop them from participating in something they are really interested in even if no one else is. I also noticed that all three of them crave alone time even when they are in a crowd. They eventually rejoin the group but they each seemed to need a time out during the busyness of the day.

They ask great questions. This wasn't a big shocker for me when it came to observing Dude. His mind is always going and he's always asking questions - and I'm usually not smart enough to answer most of the questions he asks. I was more surprised by Crafty and Mischief. They are smart cookies, too, so I wasn't surprised that they had thoughts. What surprised me was Crafty's boldness to ask questions to strangers in a group setting and the depth of though Mischief put into his questions. It seems that although Mischief is in constant motion he is, in fact, taking in most of what he hears and Crafty has figured out how to let her curiosity win over her anxiety.

They are growing at warp speed. I often think of home as their natural habitat but that's not really the case. These Wee Ones spend most of their wakeful hours out in the world, with teachers and peers. Most of their learning and maturing happens out of sight from us and this is so evident when we have the opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat. They are not little anymore. They don't need us to navigate the world, step by step, for them. They are figuring things out pretty well on their own. They are stronger, smarter, more thoughtful, more courageous than I give them credit for. They are not babies - they are Wee People who have carved out their own place in their world. It's really remarkable to witness. And it's happening so fast!

They still want us. Whether it was a wink across the room, a seat saved on the bus or a wee sticky hand slipping into mine, my kids all let us know that they still want us around. While some of the other kids didn't want to be in their parents' group, didn't want to sit with them on the bus or didn't want them taking pictures of them together at the events all three of my kids loved every minute of having us present. They were happy to walk with us during the tours and looked forward to us joining them and their friends for lunch. They wanted to stand next to us, hold our hands and give us hugs throughout the day. They may not need us but they want us - and that makes my heart sing!

This school year has flown but and our kids have grown by leaps and bounds. I'm proud of them for persevering, for being brave and for being teachable. I'm in awe of the people they are becoming. As I watch them grow from year to year, and learn a little more about them, its as though I am slowly unwrapping a precious, and much anticipated, gift. Maybe because I am. As much as I'd like to tear of the wrappings and see the fullness of this precious gift, I also want to savour this time. Savour the anticipation, the discovery, the quiet moments of becoming. Time rushes on fast enough on its own and though I can do nothing to stop it, I can be purposeful in enjoying each second that passes. I can soak in the newness of each day. I can peacefully observe these Wee Ones as they move through the world and make it their own.

And I can be grateful

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.” 
― Anne Frank