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Teach your children well…especially the first one!

May 16th, 2004 · No Comments

Ted and I entered into parenthood with deliberation and intention. We read books, discussed philosophies, observed others, asked questions. Ever since birth, we’ve considered how we were teaching our child, what she was learning from us, how we were shaping her. At night sometimes we evaluate how our parenting going and change directions if necessary. I like to think that we are conscious of our tasks and fulfilling our duties.

Yet in recent days I’ve seen even more the importance of teaching the children well, especially the oldest child.

Our firstborn is almost 6. She has two younger sisters. I’m realizing how much time Abigail spends with her sisters, and how often she is teaching them. Her favorite playtime activities include being Ballet Instructor, Gymnastics Coach, Librarian or Teacher. Often I overhear her giving Michaela specific instructions. She tells her how to do sit-ups or somersaults. She showed her how to tell time on the digital clock. Sometimes when I give Abigail something to do, she shares it with her sisters, teaching them at the same time.

Abigail mimics me. She is teaching her sisters the way I teach her. She is teaching her sisters what I teach her. Already I’ve noticed that there are some things I’ve never taught Michaela but she knows them already. The Source: Big Sister. This principle probably depends on family dynamics and personalities. But I am seeing how important it is to train #1 well. It seems if #1 is trained well, some of the work of teaching the other kids is already done.

Thursday afternoon, while I was folding laundry in the hallway, Abigail played, wandering around in various states of dress(up). I realized that she will be 6 soon. She still seems young to me. A silly kid, innocent and unaware in her underwear, enjoying her girly dress-up gowns. But in another 6 years she will be 12. In another 6 years, her body may be well on its way to womanhood. She won’t be a girl forever. She might be halfway to puberty already.

Sometimes when I look back on my childhood, it looms large in memory. The years seem huge, filled with importance, stamped with impressions that marked me for life. I feel like I was a child a long time a long time ago.

But looking at my own little girls, I see how quickly the years come and go, how fast the bodies grow. The years when we are truly children, in both body and soul, are few and swift.

Tags: motherhood