Lately, it seems that I have been in many situations where my children are not behaving in the expected fashion for the venue and I am surrounded by families whose children are super, super well behaved....or at least the moment in time that I am seeing them they are wonderfully cooperative, attentive and down right cute. Mine on the other hand are arguing, smacking each other, talking to each other in not so nice tones and honestly down right annoying.
Each of us is on this incredible parenting journey with various resources and supports and no real guide books. I just wish I knew what to do differently to ensure that my kids learn the most they can and live life to its fullest as well as leading productive lives and helping those around them.
Today we were at Home school Days at the History Museum where they had a special exhibit of Vatican Splendors. It was extremely crowded with very large groups of home schoolers taking advantage of the special education days. I ran into many families that I have met through various nature center classes and also one of my scrap booking friends had her family's coop there and I have never seen them at any home school function before. Anyway, lots of large multi-age families whose children (and themselves) seemed to be managing a lot better than my four and I. LJ whined, fussed, wanted to be down, wanted to be up, wanted to roll around on the crowded floor, briefly would find something totally fascinating and chat non-stop about it and thoroughly enjoyed the craft activity. A-girl was in a tormenting mood for the first little bit as she poked at her siblings causing them to get frustrated with her. Within the first 10 minutes of the exhibit, I had two crying and was ready to pack it all in. I hadn't prepared them or myself enough for our outing. It had sounded great and others that had seen it encouraged us to go. It then dawned on me that they have "different kids" than I do. The ones who calmly walk along, soaking in the reading, the visual displays and are not affected by large crowds. My kids need to be touching, to be moving and experience learning in all modalities not that they shouldn't have to focus and refine other modalities at times. At one point when LJ was having the hardest time, I looked around the room and there was a young family quietly sitting as their mom explained things to them about the artifacts. The most amazing thing was that these two little girls so intently listening were about 2 and 3 years old. There was a little guy in a sling on the mom's back and she was several months pregnant with their 4th. Not a peep. The kids moved quietly from one artifact to the next. The little guy in the sling on the back was contently sitting there. LJ in a sling is like some three ring circus act gone wrong. He doesn't sit contently or quietly. He uses it as a prop in a gymnastics class. I tried carrying LJ on my back at one point and he pulled my hair so hard I thought the tears or pain would flow. I saw some folks we know from a nature center class walking through and she had all 5 listening and interacting as they discussed what was going on around them. Her kids are newborn, 2,4,6 and 8 years old.
As we stood behind yet more large families of really young attentive kids, I commented to my friend that we were there with that I wished I knew the secret. Without missing a beat, she said "Look at yours right now." For a split second in time they were all attentively focused on a video clip. She continued "Someone could say that about you kids right now." I started to argue ".....but this is the first time...." and she said "look at them right now." I knew she was right. I can't compare my kids to others. I can't live in the past or the future. I need to live in the moment and enjoy it to its fullest even if that means lowering my "perfect" expectations and taking a more realistic approach.