Silence! Learning in Progress

The wind blew furiously and rain pelted us so hard I almost decided to pull the car off the freeway. The clouds were dark and ominous, and I think I even heard a hint of thunder in the sky, but still my two older sons decided to roll down their windows. I gritted my teeth in the front seat, annoyed. If it were a sunny summer day, they'd be complaining about the wind, I thought to myself. I started to ask them to roll their windows up, but when I looked in to the rear view mirror, I couldn't help but stop and smile. The boys were having so much fun! They giggled and screamed at the wind and remarked on how wet the rain made their fingertips. One would roll his window partway up and they'd notice how it made a helicopter sound and made their ears feel funny. They're learning right now, I realized. It might be a little obnoxious to me, but maybe it's not something I should immediately stop them from doing. They're discovering things about air pressure and weather and physics that they won't be introduced to formally until much later in life. Should I really make them stop, or should I hold my chin up and let them have a little fun?

Annoying to you is amazing to them.

Yeah, sometimes annoying is just annoying. But often, that thing your 2-year-old keeps doing that is driving you nuts is teaching her something. She's interacting with her world and figuring out how it works. Understanding that banging two blocks together makes a certain sound or singing the same nonsense words over and over again are not simply activities meant to try your patience. Your child is actively discovering and learning, every minute of every day--and as long as no one is actually getting hurt, maybe you should just let them be.

It's hard to step back and realize that sometimes, especially after a long day when you've already had enough. I'm also not saying that no matter what, you shouldn't ask your children to calm down or be quieter. I eventually made my boys roll up the windows, but I did my very best to give them a while to discover first. Does a few more minutes really hurt all that much?

Just land your helicopter, take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment.

Embrace the crazy. Let it unfold, and keep thinking about how much they're learning. We live in a generation of helicopter parents, constantly standing there ready to stop their children from doing something they shouldn't. We need to spend a little less time hovering and become lifeguards, watching from the sidelines and ready to jump in when necessary, but otherwise enjoying the view in peace and quiet.

Treat all moments like learning moments.

Because they are. And some day, your children will thank you for the freedom you gave them to explore.

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