I am currently reading several books, one of which is Calm and Compassionate Children: A Handbook by Susan Usha Dermond. I am finding it to be moderately good. Many of the things she mentions are not new, but it is always good to hear them again to reaffirm my own practice of parenting, teaching, and being an intentional person. There is a little too much focus on spirituality for my taste, but my taste is not necessarily a good indicator of the larger readership of the book.
This morning, as I rode the T in to work, I read a section on observing the world and specifically the good things in the world around us. I have tried to refocus my daughter’s seeming hyperfocus on the the bad things by having her share events she enjoyed from the day and sharing ones from mine. I feel that aside from developmental appropriateness, this trend of focusing on bad things may be a reflection of how I have been communicating the world to her. My children’s actions and words are often a mirror into my own.
“When we model looking for what we can learn from difficult situations rather than looking to blame others, children will learn the same life skill.” p85 Though I do not think this particular life skill is one of the bad ones I model, I extend the idea of what I model has a greater impact on my children’s behavior than what I say. One of the Practical Steps in the book is to practice noticing good things in the world around us, especially the natural world. This is something I do all the time but don’t necessarily communicate. As I grew older, adults and my peers did not want to hear of my fascination with the minutia of the world around me or of the images that continue to float in my brain like flash bulbs on my retinas.
I looked up from the book and captured such an image. The T was crossing the Charles River on the “Salt and Pepper bridge” named for its distinctive towers that look like salt and pepper shakers. Illustrations of these towers adorn a page in Make Way for Ducklings. The Boston shoreline was shrouded in mist and low clouds which obscured the tall buildings. My field of vision, painted in gray tones, was limited to the first row of buildings on the shore. A single church spire stood above the surrounding buildings, and the entire scene seemed almost a century earlier as if the T had become a clackity, well-lit time machine.