A writing prompt: My Emotional Weather Report

winter '04 walk-in

A cold chill looms in my subconscious.

Awake, there are flakes of doubt whether,

I will weather, future rains on “my parade”

With a calm front.

We live not in the doldrums for very long.

 Clouds come and go.

I will focus upon the clear skies…my horizon.

Stomping in puddles,

Making snow angels,

And building sand castles on the warmest days.

For the winds of change are unpredictable,

Yet, I’m certain, the sun always rises in the East.

Girls will be girls…

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I’ve watched small children for almost 40 years (as a Family Day Care Provider) and there are some “stereotypes” that, I must admit, are true.

Little girls and little boys are definitely “wired” differently.

This post is motivated by my anxiousness about the, soon to happen, summer school vacation. My 7-year-old granddaughter, her 6-year-old (girl) cousin and a 3 1/2-year-old girl, will be in my care every weekday throughout the summer.  I am still recovering from the week-long Spring break with this trio.

Throughout my day care years, I was blessed by groups with more boys than girls. Don’t get me wrong, little girls make the better companions when alone. They are much more verbal and enjoy engaging with adults, a bit more. But, put them in a group, and there is competition without limits.

My scientific curiosity, about human behavior, always stems from Nature and, our similarities to animals. Females compete for the reason of propagating the human species. It is simply hard-wired into their nature, in my opinion. This further explains the many girls who find keeping “male friends” much more satisfying and less complicated through their early years. For me, the valuing of female friendships didn’t appear until after I was married with children. The “drama” created by groups of females always detracted from the uncomplicated “rough and tumble” play that I enjoyed most.

Many may feel this post is terribly sexist…to those who think this, I say, “Men and women are different. Instead of ignoring this, I suggest we embrace and value those differences.”

I am speaking from years of experience. Personally, it’s been a life-long study with irrefutable results.

The competitiveness of girls seems to be, grounded in, their superb awareness of non-verbal clues and their delightful social abilities. One example that I remember clearly:

A 4-year-old girl was sitting in a pout over not getting her way. I asked a 4-year-old boy to offer her some apple slices for snack. The girl turned her head away from the offer, since she wasn’t yet over her disappointment. The boy reacted with a shrug and happily kept the extra portion for himself. Then I asked a 3-year-old girl to make the same offer to the “pouter”. (There was “bad blood” between these two girls from other competitive moments but I hoped it might be the first step in getting them to be friendlier with each other.) The 3-year-old, happily offered the girl some apples. Miss Pout rolled her eyes and folded her arms refusing the apples. Without hesitation, the younger girl threw the apple slices in her lap and stormed away.

The boy was not at all insulted…even at 3, the girl who was offering the apples, knew she had been snubbed and, furthermore, took it quite personally.

I find the experiment quite interesting and don’t think a world made, from all of either reaction, would be fun. The boy’s reaction was far easier for me though! The girls battled daily after that and to my distraction.

Of course, these reactions can happen from either sex. Some boys are wound tighter and some girls are not as easily insulted. I am just offering a well-studied norm for your consideration. Actually, being aware of this tendency has allowed me to avoid putting girls “at odds” with each other and has reminded me to offer boys more “How do you think they feel?” moments too.

So my plans for summer are many well thought out activities. There will be well-defined consequences for extreme bickering and rewards for showing good-sportsmanship and sharing. Keeping decisions fewer and options greater may be my only salvation!

Copycat!!!!

Sometimes as a child care provider, I feel more like a referee than an educator. The most frequent complaint from kids is,”They are copying me!”. Seems that every single child, at one time or another, has that complaint.

In my opinion, the old kid game of repeating every spoken word another kid says in order to irritate them is the only example of copying that requires a complaint. Ever wonder what makes the young (sometimes old ) human being feel it has to be original? I do.

We all remember hearing from our parents and telling our kids, “copying is a form of flattery.”. The indignancy of being copied is still prevalent in the immature mind, in spite of that wisdom. Certainly being original is great. Without valuing originality, where would innovation and invention be?

We don’t want to have kids become sheep, but this morning’s example of the copycat complaint speaks to something that I find baffling.

Child A and Child B interrupt my bathroom visit (as usual) both claiming an urgency to use the facilities. Child A is extremely agitated by the fact that Child B is copying her request to use the bathroom. Child B is new to toileting and once she decides to go, there is a finite amount of time for success. Child B’s request to use the bathroom may well have started as a copycat behavior but it is obvious that the need has become real. I place Child B on the toilet while Child A screams the indignity of being copied and not getting first use.

Some kids have a greater sensitivity to the “copycat offense”. Amusingly, those same kids are the ones who do the greater amount of “copycatting” and serves as one fine example of the art of projection. “I do it, so you must also be doing it.” Liars think everyone is lying, thieves are quicker to think a lost item has been stolen…and so on. This isn’t always true and should not be accepted as a unanimous fact but sometimes it really shows where a person’s head is.

The view of innate emotions that I get from watching kids, is fascinating. I think we can learn so much from kids. Their innocence is refreshing and even their, less than stunning moments, give us so much to consider.

One prime example of a great idea that backfired: I convinced my daughter (when she was about 7) that trying to be first in my day care line-ups was boring. (I was only attempting to ease the “I’m first!” bickering.) So, she started asking to be last. Well, before long, everyone wanted to be last…Lining up is impossible without someone going first!!! I’m sure there is a wonderful lesson in that debacle. HA!!! 🙂

The Jealousy Gene?

People are different…we are born with different personalities…we are raised in different environments…thus Nature vs Nurture. This subject never fails to interest me.

There is one emotion that especially bothers me. J-E-A-L-O-U-S-Y is the most useless and harmful of all human(and animal) emotions. In the day care setting, I observe human behavior every day. Actually, watching babies is fascinating because they are basically blank slates. I have noticed some differences between the genders and their needs. Moreover, it seems the babies come with predetermined dispositions. I have not run double blind studies but the 35 years as a caregiver have offered more than a small sampling of observations.

Currently, I have some kids who  compare and concern themselves with the “goings on” of others an awfully lot.

The pros to this are:

  • Learning from the mistakes of others.
  • More ideas the merrier.
  • Never miss activities due to concentration on their own thing.

The cons to this are:

  • Never satisfied to be themselves.
  • Measuring what others have takes energy away from fun.
  • Taking anything but total equality as a personal insult.

Since I do not have a “jealousy gene” that I am aware of, this behavior really BUGS me. I try to understand it and I realize it is beyond their total control. I do not think that jealousy comes from insecurity, as often as it comes from, the individual’s nature. The kids have offered a unique study for me.

Envy and jealousy are absolutely different emotions. Of course, we all envy a lottery winner. But a jealous person is one who wishes ill upon the winner or dwells on the fact that THEY did not win. (Doesn’t even matter if they,themselves, ever played the game!)

Now, the idea that this ” jealousy factor” seems to run in families could be evidence for the nurture argument. Take a closer look at those families. Are they all jealous people or are some of them inheriting the trait while others do not have it?

I believe there must be a jealousy gene. I also believe that our personal capacity to feel joy comes from a genetic predisposition more than an environmental cause, as well.

Look around if this idea interests you…let me know what you discover.

The Beginning of My Memoir

Emotionally yours…

In order to feel great joy, you have to feel sorrow.

When I was a small child, my mother could not allow me to watch Lassie.

Even before I could describe feelings, I had deep ones. When Lassie would whine, I would cry. At least, that’s what I was told…

I do remember having blood drawn. I would break into tears so often that my mother took me to the doctor.

On the flip side, I felt excitement and joy over such simple things. I still do.

In artwork, one can not display light without darkness. Deep feelings have a wide spectrum.

Is it a curse? I would not trade that ability for anything.

Of course, when we are young, we believe everyone comes from the exact same place. It was not until recently that I discovered not everyone seems to have the same depth or ability to experience emotion.

This sounds hopelessly condescending…I do not mean to.

The creative spirit is based in emotion. The most creative of us have traditionally bordered on mental illness.(so we believe)

Who’s to say that the “mentally ill” are not the enlightened ones?

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