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Head's Corner, December 4, 2013
Greetings CMS Families!
I hope that you had an amazing Thanksgiving Break. I certainly recognize that not everyone celebrates certain holidays for various reasons. I just hope that you were able to enjoy the time off doing whatever makes you happy. I am a holiday junkie! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it makes people reflect on all of the reasons they should be thankful. I am thankful for everything; the good, the bad and the ugly.
Last year, I shared my personal story of Thanksgiving gone awry: high maintenance in-laws, on demand Spanish and math lessons from my niece, a few black jokes that I told, and a burned turkey. It was classic. Heavily ladened with drama but soaked with love. This year was pretty much the same "stuff" but a different day. Before we even arrived in Cleveland my son got very sick on the flight, almost causing the pilot to have an emergency landing. When we arrived at the gate we were met by a lovely team of paramedics who briskly whisked my son and husband away in an ambulance. As I sat in the emergency room waiting for all sorts of results, all I could think about was the other purpose for the trip was for my husband to make a decision about donating his kidney to his brother.
Seriously, I could not make this up. Everything turned out great for my son and we got the green light to enjoy the holiday! When we finally arrived at my sister-in-law's I was so excited to see everyone, especially my four-year-old niece, Mia and 18-month-old nephew, Tucker, until the Games began. I don't know if it is because I am an educator or that everyone knows that I love kids but my sister-in-law, whom I love dearly, thinks that I am Mia and Tucker's private tutor and that the purpose for my presence is to listen to everything the children have learned since last year.
"Habla español, Mia. Como se dice dog, cat, eyes, nose...." And the list continued. Then she asked me if I could please work with them on their letters. I have the perfect letters I thought to myself W T H only the H was not the original letter. Please don't misunderstand me. I want to teach them everything but let me just love up on them. Enough already!
My daughters were there, one was applying to grad school and one was completing an insane college process so they were all but relaxed. My oldest niece Arielle is a grad student at Carnegie Mellon Business School and she was up every morning at 5 working diligently to "stay on top" of everything. Then I had an epiphany--education is absolutely essential but kids need more joy. In an effort to prepare them academically and socially we as a society have placed more demands on children than most adults themselves have done. Children are like miniature CEOs with demands that are at times unmanageable and unfair. My kids are involved in everything under the sun: sports, music lessons, art classes, test prep classes, youth church groups and community service and the list goes on. Why? Because I love them and I want them to have access to all of what life has to offer, by any means necessary.
Really? For some strange reason this epiphany reminded me of a doll that I absolutely had to have one Christmas. She was gorgeous and her name was Chrissy. Every time I pulled her string she would say a number of different phrases. "Hi my name is Chrissy and I'm your friend. How are you today?" I must have pulled the string at least a hundred times within the first week before Chrissy just got on my last nerves. I wanted to know what did she think? How did she feel? What were her hopes? Her dreams? I have two siblings so why was I looking for a toy to meet my needs. Well at age six I could not articulate that.
Forty years later I think I'm on to something. I am no different than my sister-in- law. I pull the strings of my own children hoping for the same things that many parents want for their children. The best. But at what cost? Parenting is like education--it is a lifelong journey. We have daily highlights and challenges, some greater than others. We never arrive. Instead of being caught up in the flight of frenzy, be the calm that you want not only yourself but also your children to be. Love your children. Let them enjoy one of the best times in their lives--childhood. Everything will work out the way it is supposed to. I am thankful that my son is fine and that my husband is so committed to family. I am thankful for parents and teachers wanting the best for children. I am particularly thankful for the epiphany to pull fewer strings. Ultimately we all want the same thing; for our children to be happy.
Have a phenomenal week!