On Monday, March 2, I was awakened at 6:15 a.m. by the exuberant shout of my 15 year old son. “They closed school! It’s a snow day! Woo hoo!” Now the fact that New York City closed Public Schools is nothing short of a minor miracle so it’s no wonder that my son was ecstatic: he’d only had one other snow day since he began school at age 4!
Recently a mother told me that her eight year old daughter asked if they were “in danger” because of the economic crisis. “In danger” is an interesting expression, isn’t it? For me, it brings up 9/11 all over again, because (at least for those of us here in New York City) we felt as though we were in real and present danger for quite a while after those planes crashed into our beloved Towers.
So when a child asks if we’re “in danger” because of the economy, my first reaction is a fairly strong: “No!”
A six year old boy suddenly begins vehemently refusing to go to school, clinging, terrified to his mother. A three year old girl inexplicably balks at going outside without her mother, bursting into tears at each attempt. A nine year old boy begins nervously putting objects in his mouth. A thirteen year old girl suddenly turns nasty and rude, and withdraws from interaction with her family.
Labeling our children is something we all do. We may begin by swearing we won't, we may have read infinite numbers of articles and books on the negative effects of putting labels on children, but long and behold, the moment we hold our child in our arms for the first time, up pops a label: "He's an easy baby." As our children grow, it continues: "Sara's the musician in the family." And the labels we apply aren't necessarily positive, either: "My son is so obsessive," "My daughter is such a slob." Positive and negative labels are so prevalent in parenting that
We're moving from the bright greens of summer to the brilliant colors of fall. Our children are making the transition from summer to school, and from flexible schedules to structure. How, during this time of transition and in the school year beyond, can we maintain a sense of the fun that summer brings? Fun that binds our children to us in a way that nothing else can? When children and parents have fun together: playing, laughing and relaxing, the underlying structure of the relationship is strengthened.