Every parent knows it.
The look you get from your child when crying no longer works, but their lip curls just enough to break your heart. Sadly, I get this look almost every morning as Daddy tries to leave for work because she wants to go to school with me, but I get the greatest joy of her running into my arms as evening graces us with its presence.
Sometimes I can brush off the stare, but there are other days when it sticks with me.
Tonight, that look of disappointment is keeping me awake.
My child is no different than most two year old children. She loves her family, especially her Mom-Mom, and expects to be the center of attention at all times. If a movie is cut off or the thirsty child’s drink goes dry the world ceases to exist and so does everything living in it. Being without siblings, she’s spoiled rotten.
However, I want her to be a humble person and have solid work ethic as she is becoming a “big girl” now and can do all of these other “big girl” things (i.e., using the potty, place items in the sink, pick up her toys, etc.).
My big mistake
My daughter runs around sucking on a pacifier, or as we call it a ninny, as long as she has been alive. However, her early learning center does not allow them because they would have kids sharing them left and right.
I get it; NO ninny building.
That doesn’t stop my wife from letting her have it in the car as she drops her off daily.
Well, like every good parent. I lost the last one and informed my wife tonight would be the beginning of her no longer needing a ninny to sleep.
My wife gave me the stair that many husbands tend to get in their marriage. How hard could this be to get her off the ninny I thought to myself?
After about 30-minutes of crying Find ninny and I need ninny, I broke down and went and laid down with her in bed. She starred me down for the longest time, or at least it seemed so to me. Wiggling between her, an over sized Olaf, a pair of Beenie Boos, and a rendition of Let it Go after I knocked a singing Elsa to the floor, it hit me what I had done.
I had accomplished a great failure in fatherhood.
Watching my daughter tonight caused me to reflect. How often do we as teachers take away, too early, a student’s comfort object and want them to jump all in before they are ready? I understand as an educator, it is necessary to place students in challenging situations to facilitate that self-exploration and learning to occur.
But, I also think young people need to feel comfortable in a school environment in order to breed success. It’s necessary to make classrooms into environments where risk taking is acceptable and encouraged. However, that non-school special comfort zone where creativity lurks is almost just as important.
Every parent knows of the special comfort zone is for their child — the bedroom with the pink princess castle where a person can barely fit because of the books piling up. Or the bed filled with enough stuffed animals to comfort an orphanage.
So as I sit back and reflect on my insistence on letting go of ninny tonight, I cannot help but think I should have allowed my daughter to keep ninny until she was ready to give it up.
Growing up to fast and taking away her supports is no way to generate the compassion I pray she will have for learning when she gets school.