“Humans would degenerate without the child to help him rise. If the adult does not waken little by little, a hard crust will form around him and make him insensible.” ~ Dr. Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood, page 106
Being in the city is interesting, to say the least. Surrounded by world-class restaurants with scores of ethnicities, shops, theatres, museums, galleries, and on and on, the choices for activities are immense.
It’s a beautiful fall afternoon. I sit on a park bench people watching, and I think that in the city we extend childhood. I see adults but few children. In the city, we adults amuse ourselves with our latte, our sushi, our lectures, our happy hours, and our 24-hour gym memberships. But I sense, where there are seldom children, there are not many true adults.
There are dogs in the park, chasing balls, and wagging their tails. Domestic dogs retain the puppy gesture of a tail wag, because emotionally and socially pet dogs do not mature into adults. These playful animals are mature biological specimens, but they are not the adults of their species.
Two athletic tan guys drive up in their German made convertible, the kind with three letters in the name, not two. They toss a Frisbee and talk about the party they went to last night and the one for tonight.
Across the street, two thirty-ish women, come out of the salon, high- heeled, manicured, pedicured, outfitted for an evening at the new trendy spot.
I grin, remembering how in my early twenties, the pursuit of being hip, dressing right, eating out, allured me. Not much of that, though, helped me become a better person.
Then came parenthood. What a wake-up call for character development. Being responsible for small human beings, day in and day out, year after year, created qualities in my personality that I never imagined.
From the beginning, our children reflect our best and worst traits, if we can bear to look in this mirror. These reflections help make us into a better person by showing us our strengths and uncovering our weaknesses. Our relationships with our children force us to decide what kind of person we want to become.
So in those moments of parenthood when we dream of a bit more “adult” sophistication with images of carrying an evening bag instead of a diaper bag, or wish we were pushing seventy in a sports car instead of pushing a stroller, remember this: that the job you are doing as a parent is the most important job on this earth. That as a parent you are your child’s first and best teacher and ally. That you are stronger than you realize.
Remember, in your low moments, that real people are walking around with babies, instead of the newest electronic music maker. Real people are taking kids on a walk instead of taking golf lessons. Real people are reading “Goodnight Moon” for the thousandth time instead of the latest novel.
To you, dear parents of all ages, I say thank you. Thank you for being the adult. Thank you for having the courage, the sense of adventure, and the sense of humor to continue the human race.
Kids Talk TM deals with childhood development issues. Maren Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland. She has over twenty-five years experience working with children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. She is author of Building Cathedrals Not Walls: Essays for Parents and Teachers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit MarenSchmidt.com. Copyright 2011.