Friday, July 25, 2008
Social Roles and Happy Work
I think my daughter is at a stage where she is learning, among other things, two really important aspects of living at 22 months of age: (1) social roles, and (2) how to feel and respond to different things when she is unsure.
With regard to social roles, I've noticed that, for example, if Daddy cuts open the popsicle the first time she has one, she goes back to him to cut the next one open. If Grandpa helps her with something, she goes back to him when she needs help with that thing. And, since Mommy always puts her to sleep at night, Mommy is really needed at bedtime. So that has me thinking, what are the social roles she is learning about herself? It has been more tempting than ever since we moved to stash her away with toys, music, and activities to distract her when I need to get things done, but what is that teaching her about her role in the family? I want her to learn that she has a contributing role in the household and then, later, in the world. And she wants to contribute. So I'm working on incorporating her, given her current capacities and the activities she finds the most joy in doing, into a real contributing role for our family. One example of this is that I'm going to let her clear the table after meals. It takes longer, but she LOVES doing it. The other night my husband and I were just chatting away after dinner, and all of a sudden we realized that our daughter was taking my husband's plate off the table. She took it to the counter, and then came back for more - our little munchkin cleared off the entire table. And she loves wiping things with wet cloths, and so I need to become more mindful again about letting her wipe down the table after meals.
As for the second point, I've noticed that she looks to me for how to respond in questionable situations. Like, she sees something on the ground that looks interesting, but is it okay to touch? So sometimes she points to it and declares, "Eww!!!!" looking to me for a response. Or else she picks it up, glancing at me to see what I do. Or with church, when we moved we had to start going to a new church. The first Sunday, when we arrived at the strange place, she wasn't sure what she thought of being at a new church. I tried to nurture the part of her that liked the church, though, and now she is happy to go there. One thing I do not feel like I have done well is nurture within her a sense of joy in work. I do not model this well - I don't like housework. I don't do it cheerfully. I don't do it grumpily, either, and I try to laugh and sing and be happy as we do it, but toddlers are amazingly perceptive, and I'm sure she's noticed that I'm inconsistent with getting things done, that I avoid the laundry, etc. My parents did a really great job raising me in a lot ways, but this really wasn't one of them. I want to do better for my child. So one of the things I'm going to do is start our "school" time that we do in the mornings with a prayer I found in a little book we have of prayers from around the world:
Thank you, God, for this new day,
For our work and school and play.
Please be with us all day long
In every story, game, and song.
May all the happy things we do
Make you, our Father, happy, too.