I had an experience this week that was so startling, that I have had to spend quite a bit of time reflecting on it. I enrolled the boys in a camp, and by all accounts it was a wonderful decision, until I saw how it was set up. They had been to a similar type of camp last summer and they loved it.
I held back my assumptions, and wanted to be sure what I was seeing and feeling and also let the kids make up their own minds. Trusting them at five to give me cues to why they were not wanting to be there. Why they are hesitating is as important as the pause.
I realized quickly that my children have only been in environments, where they are celebrated. Not that they have no discipline, but celebrated as people. Any environment we decided was good for them had this one essential element.
That they are unique, wonderful, and loved. What I found instead, was something different. Not bad. Different. There were songs about being wonderful and loved, but it was missing in action.
My children were not at ease, because it was like a herding of children. Not taking the time to high five and greet them, but to silently lead them on their way. No wonder they did not want to go in. Would you?
I stopped an adult and asked for the person in charge. I asked where were all the adults? Who had trained the youth on how to greet young children to make them feel safe and welcomed?
The answer I got was a question. Do you homeschool? Are you having a hard time letting go?
What? No! I let go all the time. That is the reason we are here, to let them experience community. (My inner dialogue).
I stayed quiet, and polite, trying to process what I was feeling seeing and experiencing. Not judging – seeing. I knew it was not about letting go, but choosing.
My objections got my children their own personal guides, people to make them feel safe and welcome and loved. They did. To her credit, the director went the extra mile and helped my children feel at ease. She made them feel so celebrated the next time they arrived.
What about the rest of the children? Don’t they need that as well? Why will they just go with the flow? Are they feeling uneasy? Is anyone noticing?
This is not a flow I am interested in. I want my children to be confident to go without me, but that takes them trusting their environment. They feel and see more than we know. I trust them to tell me what is right and what is not for them, because they know a safe place when they see it.
Have you experienced this? Are we raising our children in a world full of herds? Is this what the world has accepted as a good way to celebrate children? How can they learn to be without us if we first do not let them experience what a safe place feels like?