Why I Wish I Was Good With Toddlers…

I am not particularly good with this toddler/preschool age. This is evident in my relations with my own child, and my complete ambivalence towards his little friends. I know how critical this period is. I know that they are developing their understanding of the world- of fairness and compassion, of desire, of humor. I get it. But what I also get is easily frustrated when I repeat the same thing to my three year old a dozen times, when he completely ignores me and does his own thing, when he wants everything on his terms. Well, when he wants everything, period.

Daycare is a godsend to my family. Peatuk gets to be around other kids, so he gets his social fix, and I get a breath of time away from the amazingly high social demands of a 3-year old Aquarius. He gets to hang out with adults that are patient with him and that actually like children. At least this is what I imagine. But then something happens that I disagree with and I wish that I could open my own preschool for the kids in town that are like mine…

In Bulgaria, art is very much a matter of following the instructions to get a final product that looks the same as all of the others. This boggles my mind- their coloring books have 1 page with the picture colored in and the next page with just the line drawing, so the kids know which colors they are supposed to use to complete the drawing. Doesn’t that take all of the fun out of coloring!?! The daycare approach to coloring is similar- the kids have a very specific drawing they are supposed to achieve.

Peatuk is a little behind on coloring. He pretty much just makes lines and calls them different things. Sometimes he can make a circle. He doesn’t have the hand coordination for more complex shapes and he can get easily frustrated when trying to draw something specific. Because of this I have gotten him into water colors and play-dough rather than coloring at home.

At school, there are sometimes pictures the kids drew sitting out on their cabinets for the proud parents to take home. There is never one from Peatuk. I have this dark fear that they throw his little lines away because they are “not good enough” to give to me. My hope is that maybe they just let the kids who want to color color and the ones who aren’t interested play instead. Please let him be playing.

For woman’s day, there was a picture of flowers on Peatuk’s cabinet. These are very simple “flowers.” They are a single green line with a colored circle on top. I recognized Peatuk’s light strokes among the circles, and guessed that they helped him by guiding his hand to do the darker, heavier lines.

Yesterday I decided to recreate the project. I drew the green lines and gave Peatuk a choice of crayons to draw the flowers. He tried, and got frustrated in ways I have never seen before. The crayon no sooner touched the page than he would cry out and pick it up- so afraid of being wrong. He looked at me and said, “I can’t do it,” and then left coloring behind. It was heartbreaking.

This is why I wish I was good with kids- why I wish that I could form some parents cooperative and give kids an alternative… where they do not learn that they cannot do art when they are three. 🙁

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