I have to confess: I am a mom who stopped reading parenting books quite a long time ago. Not that wonderful advice can’t be found inside the pages of this or that book, but I found myself getting tied up in knots trying to always do the Right, Perfect, Best thing. It turns out I’m not the greatest parent when I’m obsessing over trying to be The Greatest Parent. So the last thing I want to do on a blog is to appear to be declaring, “Look at us! We are the perfect, beautiful family and we have it all figured out! Be like us and you will be HAPPY. Be like us and all your problems will be SOLVED!”
I’m learning as I go. I’m learning to look closely at who we are as a family and as individuals and respond to that more than I respond to that nagging little voice that says, “So-and-so has been taking ballet lessons since she was four. Your kids should be doing that. Sports are important. Your kids should spend more time doing that. You need to be doing more blank, blank, and blank.” I’ve been working on playing more to my children’s strengths and interests. Academics are still very important, but once we’re done with math, for example, I want my kids to be able to really focus in on their areas of interest, because chances are they were made to be something other than mathematicians.
So we color more, now. We sing our math facts. We take breaks and dance. We process information by writing and drawing.
All our time spent with The Nutcracker Ballet before Christmas had an interesting effect. Our kids know the music really well. They know the story. They know that an artist in pretty much any discipline can take an idea and make it their own, that a person can use the same story to say different things. They are familiar with what ballet looks like in comparison with other forms of dance. They also have beautiful music and images running through their heads. (I know because bits of music and dance break through to the surface at odd moments—at the dinner table, at bedtime, at an antique store much too close to breakable glass objects.) This is the kind of education I love.
So my goal here is not to say, “You must read this book! You must be more artsy! Be like us and all your problems will be SOLVED!” I don’t want to offer any resolutions for you to make this year. I just want to say, “Did you know this stuff is out there?” Because we’re pretty excited about it.