The Tiny Teacher

This week's blog entry is written by Committee for Children staff member Allison Wedell Schumacher.

Allison Wedell SchumacherIn the past week alone, I have been a ghost, a cowgirl, a dragon, a monkey, an Olympic figure skater, and a monster. No, I’m not an actress (well, not anymore), nor do I suffer from multiple personality disorder. Rather, I’m the mother of an almost-three-year-old girl.

Anyone who has spent any time around children of this age knows they spend much of their days (and, as I am beginning to suspect, nights) in worlds of their own creation. Pretend play is, I’m told, a very important developmental phase that is helping my daughter understand the world around her and even build her social and emotional skills.

For example, the other day, my daughter told me, “Mommy, Evelyn is frustrated at me.” She went on to explain that Evelyn (a floppy, rose-colored stuffed elephant who is inexplicably male and British) needed a nap, but claimed he wasn’t tired and was refusing to lie down.

What amused and fascinated me about the exchange was that it was nearly identical to one I had had with her the day before when—you guessed it—I was trying to put her down for a nap and she insisted she didn’t need one.

I often worry that, because she’s home with her dad all day and not in daycare or preschool, she’s not getting the socialization she might need. So I try to take advantage of teachable moments like this to help her learn social and emotional lessons.

The thing is, I often end up learning as much from her as she does from me. As I watched her cradle Evelyn and sing him a soothing lullaby, I realized that this was her way of telling me that she gets frustrated when she feels she’s not being heard. My daughter may only be three feet tall, but she has adult-sized intellect and emotions—and remembering that will only make me a better parent.