This photo popped up on Facebook earlier. Usually these photos barely register on my consciousness. This one however caught my eye as the little girls are very sweet.
I looked at it, smiled, nodded slightly – because I fully subscribe to the idea that we are individuals and we should be who we chose to be, not sheep following the flock – and went to pass on. Then I stopped, attention caught by the other little girls in the picture and my opinion of the picture shifted. Because actually I don’t believe at all that there are only 2 types of people in the world I believe there are 7,063,061,028 different types (approx according to US Census Bureau). Every single person in the world is unique, we are nothing special, or at least only as special as the man across the road, the lady on the bench, the boy standing next to us. Every one of us is an individual with their own wants and needs, all worthy of respect. But here is the crux of it – there are 7,063,061,028 of us! We do not live in our own little bubbles we live in a crowded world, our actions impact on others.
So back to the picture, the little girl doesn’t want to join in, listening and watching, she wants to climb and swing, well that is fine. But what about the other people in the scene? The implication is they are sheep, doing what is expected of them. That is not necessarily the truth. I’ve been that little girl who was so keen to learn (but not ballet, even at 4 I had the grace of an elephant, I lasted 2 lessons!). But I had the child behind distracting the group, meaning that I didn’t get the learning experience that I wanted or needed. I’ve also been the adult, the one who knows that should that bar break or the girl slip they stand a fair chance of being sued and may well be thrown to the lions by the body they ‘work’ for because they haven’t dotted an i or crossed a t somewhere along the line, the one who has given up their time and a lot of thought trying to come up with stuff to engage the children, the one who feels they are letting down the children who are keen because they can not ‘guide’ them in the activities properly because they are distracted and they have to spend more time explaining things over again as people can’t hear through the noise and distractions than interacting with the children in a positive way.
Where’s the rant I hear? What exactly made you so annoyed. It was clicking on the photo and seeing all the comments ‘that’s my daughter’ like the girl on the right was behaving in a way to make the parent proud. Personally I’d be much prouder of the two in the middle obviously keen and engaged and trying hard.
If I was the mother of the climber, would I be cross? No, of course not, she’s a little girl being herself. But I would decide the class wasn’t right for her and either find her a dance teacher whose style fitted better, or accept that she wasn’t a dancer, stick her in dungarees and head to the park, hey if it is the tutu that has the appeal then tutu and wellies and park would do fine.
I would not be proud and celebrating behaviour that in my view is selfish. By acting on one persons wants and needs you are having a negative impact on all the other people there.
Of course we should focus on our own happiness and needs but not to the detriment of others. As parents it is our role to guide our children to knowing when they need to make these compromises. Back to this example, in the situation if the little girl was mine and I was there. If we couldn’t leave without fuss, I’d be encouraging her to join in or sit and observe quietly so that those who wanted could learn and the teacher could teach as although her desire to climb is perfectly legitimate there are plenty of other times and places for that while for those who want to learn ballet it has to be then and there and therefore their needs are worthy of slightly higher priority in that instant. Then we would head to the park, because having sat nicely her need to run about would trump my need to get home for coffee 😉
In a world of 7,063,061,028 we need to learn to live together and recognise that we need to respect and value those around us. Being an individual doesn’t mean that we have to put our needs and wants ahead of those of others, as with anything it is balance. Not doing exactly what you want at a particular time but waiting until another time or doing a slightly altered version so that others wants and needs can be met, makes you no less true to yourself but does make you a nicer person. This is not something that comes naturally and in my opinion it is probably the most important role a parent has, trying to help our children find the right balance, when in reality most of us parents don’t have it right. All we can try and do though is our best, offer guidance and try and be a decent role model.
And yes I have definitely massively overthought this!