Today we were going to meet with some friends at a nature play area and creek. Hailey (6) was not really wanting to go our of the house but agreed. She brought her tablet along to keep herself entertained doing.
At first I looked at her sitting to the side of everyone playing and thought “she is really missing out.” I wondered if I should tell her to put her tablet down and play at the nature park with her friends. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted, but I held my tongue. I stepped back and seen that she did not feel like she was missing out on anything, and she was happy.
It didn’t stop there though because we walked down to the creek and everyone was looking for crawdad’s. I knew she would love it but she didn’t want to go in the water unless she could bring her tablet, which obviously not a good idea, so she chose to sit to the side and keep playing on it. The voices in my head crept up again. “She would love this, if I just told her she had to put it down, she might be frustrated at first but would probably have a good time.” Once again, I stopped myself. She was choosing what she would enjoy most at that moment from the options she had. She didn’t even feel like going out today, but got ready without hesitation because she understood that everyone else wanted to go.
It started to rain a little, but everyone in the creek didn’t mind. I told her that tablet might get wet, and this might be a good time to put it somewhere safe. This time the words were not coming from a place of control, but a place of love. Kids can usually tell your heart; they know the true intentions behind your words more often than not. She understood that there was a legitimate reason for my suggestion and she agreed. She put the tablet away and played in the creek. She used the net to help catch some crawdads to show the littler kids. She had fun.
She was able to enjoy herself the entire time. I was able to stop myself from making choices that were about control instead of connection. Everyone had a good time and all were respected for their choices.