It's just after 10:00 p.m. and everyone is asleep in my house except me. For months and months, the only thing I have truly craved is sleep-- long stretches of uninterrupted, dreamy sleep. But, we've turned a bit of a corner and now peace and quiet and some solitude is sounding as good as sleep to me right about now.
I am up grading my students' papers while my family sleeps. Every time I look at a paper, I find something else to comment on. Most of the papers have comments in red, purple and blue ink because I am always holding a different pen when I spot issues for editing. Being a writing teacher is fun, but the grading is on the laborious side.
Sadie and Simon are enjoying the fall weather. Sadie and I took an autumnal stroll to her art class yesterday. The class is held at a cute studio in our neighborhood; it's owned by a vivacious former art student/nanny who put her two careers together and came up with a cozy little art studio for kids. During class, the teacher reads the kids a story and then there is an art project to illustrate the story ideas. We read the Very Busy Spider and then made a spider web yesterday. I won't lie: it was a very stressful hour for me. I sat next to Sadie and watched her do her project. I thought it would be best to take a "hands off" approach, instead of telling her how to paint the spider or where to put the web. After all, Sadie is all of 2 years old and doesn't need to be concerned about doing it perfectly.
No. That's MY job. It's not that I think Sadie should know how to paint a spider and add pipe cleaner legs. She's perfectly fine. It's me I can't stop critiquing. The voices in my head are so distracting: "Should I intervene and help her glue the glitter? Should I tell her that a spider has 8 legs, not 3? Should I tell her not to eat the glue with her paintbrush?" It got really tripped up when I saw the other caregivers being very "proactive." During the story, one of the nannies was cajoling little Colton to speak up every time the teacher asked a question: "Colton, that's a pig! You know what a pig is. Say 'pig'"." I just don't feel right trying to get Sadie to say something in a public-ish venue if she isn't in the mood. I know she knew it was a pig too, but she probably has her reasons for not saying it out loud and I don't want to force her to be different. When she's only 2 and it's just a neighborhood art class. For fun.
So, at the end of the project, Sadie had a spider with an undetermined number of legs, sitting on a glittery spider web that she painted purple and orange. I won't say "who cares?" because the answer is obvious: I care. I want to do what's right. I want my kids to feel loved and cared for and I want them to know I am paying attention. I want them to have fun, but I there's so much more gray area than I thought there would be. I think the right thing for me is to err on the side of freedom and letting go, even if it kills me. If Sadie wants to have a different kind of spider in the future, she can ask me for help or we can talk about how to make that happen. For now, it was really all about snack time, for which Sadie was perfectly attentive and enthusiastic. I laughed watching her gleefully eat the 7 goldfish the teacher gave her for snack time. Sadie was so excited about those goldfish, even though I gave her a baggie full of them 10 minutes before art class. Why are snacks so much better when they come from someplace other than home?
Next week when we pick up the spider project, I will post it with pride because it's the memento of a time I got to spend with Sadie that I (thank god) didn't ruin with my control and perfectionism.