This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for a while – an open letter to baby James promising that I will always try to do right by him. Of course, what’s important to one person matters little to another, so I felt the best I could promise was to treat him how I would wish to be treated…but that still seemed so impersonal.
Then I came across this article from Great Moments in Parenting where the author relates a story in which one of her young students seems overly hungry for her attention. When she asks what he’s not getting at home from his mother, he whispers: “I just want her to see me.”
And there it is – dismissal. One of the worst things you can do to another person is brush them off, yet it’s often the automatic response when it comes to kids. Not now, Mommy’s busy. You can’t really be upset! Shhh…grown-ups are talking. That’s not right – do it this way!
I like to think I have a child-like way of looking at the world. To some, I may come across as simple or flighty, but I like to think of it as maintaining my “sense of wonder.” And it serves me well when one of the kids comes up to me on a trek to show me a flower or a leaf that they found. I would never shoo them away just so we can keep the activity on schedule. I acknowledge. I admire their find. I show them that what they notice matters.
And that’s how I will treat you, my sweet James: I will always stop to hear you and respond in a way so that you’ll never feel like what you have to say is unimportant or automatically incorrect. I will help nurture your confidence to try new things and think for yourself and wonder about the mysteries of the universe without worrying about whether you should or could or are allowed. Your individuality will be respected. I will never assume that I know more or better than you “just because” – for you will be my little sage-teacher as well as my student. We will learn from each other and from the world around us, together, as equals. I will acknowledge what you think and say and do, even if I don’t always agree with it. The lines of communication will always be open. I will never dismiss you. And I will always see you.