01 October 2009

stories of preschoolers

Even though Evan is in preschool now, he's only there three mornings a week, so we're still going to one of the community play classes for preschoolers on one of his off days. The main reason I decided to continue with this class in addition to preschool is because of how much Evan loves his teacher.

She's not a real teacher; she's a Parks Department employee who leads the kids in some activities and supervises them while they play, makes sure they're using the equipment and toys properly, that sort of thing. It's a really unstructured environment, held in a school cafeteria covered with big mats and active toys. The teacher really enjoys the kids, though, and she spends a lot of time just playing with them, for which they all love her too.

I'm about to tell more snobby parenting stories here, by the way. Because these classes are free or really cheap, you get a lot of different types of people attending. Let's just say that my bleeding-heart granola sensibilities are even more unusual here than they are at Suburban Preschool. I frequently find myself boggling over some of the things I overhear from other parents there.

There was the grandmother who told her grandson to be nice to Evan or Evan's mommy would get mad at him and yell at him. Then she looked at me and whispered, "Really, yell at him." Whuh? Sorry, Grandma, but it's not my job to discipline your grandson for you!

Then there was the father complaining that his daughter wouldn't go to sleep before 10 or 11 pm. They'd tried everything, he said, but it was no use, because his two-and-a-half year old daughter knew how to turn on the television in her bedroom and put on a DVD by herself, so despite their best efforts she still stayed up late watching DVDs. (The other parents listening to his complaint, by the way, responded with variations of, "Kids these days! They're so smart and technologically advanced!")

This morning there was another grandmother, playing with her grandson on the mats. Five-year-old grandson picks up a block and Grandma says, "You can pretend it's a gun." Five-year-old points his "gun" at the teacher and starts yelling, "FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!" Teacher keels over, groaning. Little boy laughs: "Ha ha! I killed you!" Grandma suddenly gets very sharp with grandson: "That's not nice! We don't say that!" Little boy asks, "What?" all innocent-like. Grandma says, "We don't use the word 'kill'. That's not nice." Oh, okay, gotcha -- pretending to shoot a teacher with a gun is fine and dandy, but don't call it killing! We wouldn't want to be inappropriate!

There are a lot of cute kids and normal people who attend these things, but some of these people are just so very different from me in their basic fundamental values and principles that I can't even comprehend what's happening inside their heads. Evan and I get along really well with the teacher, but some of these people make me wonder how she stands it sometimes. She was telling stories this morning too, of some of the more colorful kids saying things to her that just make her jaw drop at the rudeness of them.

I worry, sometimes, about whether my kids are going to grow up to be good people (and these worries are based more in my own paranoia and lack of parenting confidence than they are in any signs from my kids that they're becoming sociopaths or something) but then sometimes, when I spend time with my kids' peers, I figure, even if my kids aren't Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr., at least they'll be better than the obnoxious jerks these kids' parents are setting them up to be.

And then I feel guilty for thinking kids are jerks, and this is when I start to feel like a judgy snob. But I guess... I'm not really sure what my point is here. I'm not even sure I have one, really, so I suppose this is a good place to end the rambling.


Jessica said...

Oh dear -- I'm still stuck on the 2-year-old with TV/DVD in her bedroom....

karen said...

I understand where you're coming feeling all judgmental and snobby. I don't even have my own kids and I still find myself caught in the back-and-forth of being overly sensitive but then judgmental, which spurs me back to the overly sensitive side. Anyway, the point is that I definitely understand. I don't even have any kids of my own, but after dealing with the kids and the parents in babysitting and daycare and schools - including the university - I get it! I've looked at kids / yound adults with my mouth open thinking "what makes you think that is acceptable?" or "what makes you think that's developmentally appropriate for your child?" I've wanted to take parents aside and be like, "You are not doing your child any favors - keep this up and they'll grow from a little jerk into a big jerk."

And then I feel bad 'cause who am I to talk? So, yeah, I know what you mean. (though I don't think calling them "jerks" is overly harsh...I've seen them once they hit college...or even just middle school!). I think that's human of you - at least you're humble and aware enough to feel like you're being "snobby" instead of just knowing you're right and they're wrong.

I don't think I want my own kids...

And for the record, though, I WISH more parents were doing as good of a job as you and Greg. Obviously I'm biased in favor of Evan and James, but really, you guys definitely seem to be doing somthing right. You hang in there!

Anonymous said...

they're gonna be great people! so much depends on the first years of a child's life and the upbringing, and you're doing a wonderful job. with such solid foundations, there's not much that can go wrong.

p.s. these stories made me laugh and shudder at the same time. sometimes i forget about the rest of the society, living in my own liberal and warm circle of lovely people...