Remember how I talked about getting shut down when I talk about my birth? Well, I also realize I do that to others.
Most notably, I did it to my sister when we were in Iowa.
The topic of Elijah starting school came up over dinner, and my sister, who has worked in preschool the majority of her adult life, decided she’d share her expertise on the subject with me. The problem was that I didn’t really want to hear it. I was tired, and the topic is frustrating to me emotionally because I’ve been through so many options and ultimately decided that despite what I may want to do in an ideal world, that’s just not going to be an option for me. My sister couldn’t have possibly known that when she offered me her advice, and she walked into an emotional storm that she didn’t deserve to be hit with.
It should also be noted that my sister and I are parenting opposites. We’re opposites on just about everything, actually, but no where is it more obvious than in our parenting choices. She is fairly conventional, I tend to reject the conventional right away, preferring to exhaust myself doing research that can frequently turn me into a know it all. There’s nothing wrong with either of our styles, we’re both raising lovely children and we’re doing what works best for our families, but I can (admittedly) get a little defensive about mine because it’s not conventional, and I tend to get a lot of people treating me like a weirdo. But that probably exacerbated things.
I ended up kind of shutting her down, going off on how I’ve chosen public schools for moral reasons, but if Elijah can’t get in, and we end up having to pay for preschool, I’m going to pay for one with an educational philosophy similar to my own, a Montessori, Waldorf, or Classical school. End of conversation. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk, I just didn’t want to talk about it and I might have ended up being a little curt.
Later my mom told me that it had really hurt my sister’s feelings. That for once she just wanted to help me out with something and I totally just blew her off. I felt awful. It wasn’t personal against her and I regretted my reaction immediately. The truth is that my sister does have quite a bit of expertise in these matters and even if we don’t see totally eye to eye on educational philosophy, her knowledge on preschool safety and record procedures probably would have been VERY valuable to me. And it wouldn’t have hurt me any to listen to her opinion on educational philosophy.
Sometimes as parents who research the crap out of everything it’s easy to start assuming that others have no information of value to offer you just because they haven’t done research in the field. Other times we close our ears to potential useful information because it’s coming from a source that we normally disagree with. These are mistakes, we should always keep an open mind and open heart when trying to do what’s best for ourselves, our family, and our community. If we can’t find value in the differences of others, I think we’re probably pretty screwed as a species. We need to tap all the resources we have to work collectively towards a better world for us all.
If it turns out that Elijah doesn’t qualify for public preschool in our district, I will call my sister and ask her opinion on private preschools, this time with an open heart and mind. I will not reject a source of wisdom and information for petty reasons, and I will trust myself to use that information in the way that best suits my family, and be grateful to my sister for sharing it with me. I love her, and I know she has valuable and important contributions to make in my life.
Guess my baby stats!
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