Parenting is surrounded by buzzwords these days.
Honestly, if you saw an ad looking for a kid in the Herald, you wouldn’t apply for quids.
It’d read something like this:
Seeking young human. Primary care from external source accepted, but ability to grasp concept of self-sufficiency highly desired.
Must be capable across a range of disciplines including independent play, structured learning, language recognition and development, child socialisation and more.
It's all a touch much for this mama.
And yet still I get caught up amongst it, fretting I’m not exposing my child to a wide enough range of influences and experiences.
‘Am I doing enough?’ I ponder aloud to my father the other day as we watch Q entertain herself with the recycling box. ‘Should I be obsessively trying to get her to clap? It was a milestone months ago but Q is yet to show any interest in it, or sit still long enough for me to show her how.’
‘Imagine if everything she knows is because it was shown to her,’ replies my ever sensible father. ‘What about discovery? I prefer things to be caught not taught.’
Caught not taught.
I like it.
Caught not taught.
Discover don’t dictate.
Or as some people would no doubt call it…
If you’re down with this method, read on.
If not, better scurry off to enrol your super-human in a cross-stitch course taught in Indonesian, squashed in between learning to swim and music appreciation class.
· supervised play – throw your kid in the pram, stop off for the ever important takeaway coffee, meet likeminded primary carers in the park, turf the kids onto the grass and let ‘em have at it. Bonus points if you don’t stop them eating dirt. Because if that’s not an excellent way to discover the distinct lack of nutritional value in soil well then, I don’t know what is.
· child socialisation – aka hang out with your family and get them to watch Q while you take advantage of having two arms and make yourself a cup of tea.
· Independent play – plonk ‘em in the middle of the floor and see what they do. Bear in mind they’ll likely ignore the box of toys and head straight for the power cords, vase of flowers and wine bottles.
· Language recognition and development – narrate everything with a really bad song. They don’t care how bad it sounds, and since their language is still developing, they can’t tell you even if they do.
· Fine motor skills – dump out the Tupperware drawer onto the floor while you’re preparing dinner. (Or making 4 minute microwave brownies, whatever). Add a couple of tins of tuna and a few saucepan lids to round out the selection and watch ‘em go. No specific outcomes required.
· Spatial awareness – plop them on the ground while you’re hanging out the laundry and time how long it takes them to find a Slater. Whether or not you let them eat said Slater is up to you. (See above point about dirt).
Jury is still out as to whether this laissez-faire attitude works or not.
Get back to me in another thirty years or so, because really, the measure of your success as a parent is really not determined until your child becomes an adult themselves.
Oh sure, some kids look like they’re better on track than others, but whose to say those others aren’t on their own path of self-discovery.
Forging a brave, unchartered front, highly intellectualised and thought out, based equal parts on instinct and laziness and without a single buzzword in sight.
Caught not taught people, caught not taught.