As parents we try to raise our children to make good choices in their lives. When they are young we let them choose between silly things to give them a sense of having some control over their lives. For example, "Do you want to wear the red shirt, or the blue shirt?" "Would you like to brush your teeth first or read stories first?" As they get a bit older, we let them make a few more choices, such as what clothes they want to wear to school. Their choices sometimes embarrass us, like when Lauren decides to wear a red and white striped shirt that's too small for her, purple sweatpants, green socks, and her pink and white shoes. . .but we smile, tell her she looks awesome, and away to school we go. Hey, she's dressed and I'm on time for work...it doesn't get much better than that!
But there are just some choices that we can't afford to let them make....that's why we are the parents and they are the children. We know what's best for them, and until they are old enough to make good choices on their own, it's up to us to do it for them. If I allowed my children to decide what they ate for every meal, they would weigh 100 pounds and their teeth would be falling out of their heads....hmm...well, at a faster rate than is normal for 6 year olds anyway. They would sit in front of the TV when it is beautiful out and their bikes would look like they've never been ridden. They would never bathe and would be known as the stinky kids on our block. Braden would never enroll in school and would reek havoc on this world moreso than he is going to just because he is Braden.
I am a teacher in a very successful Dual Language Program. Our students are learning to read, write, and speak in English and in Spanish starting at the very early age of 5. I am very proud to be a part of this program, and prouder still to be a parent of a student in this program. I did not give Lauren a choice of which preschools to attend, which elementary school she would attend, or whether or not to take part in the Dual Language Program. As her mother, and now her teacher, I know that the choices I have made for her will give her a better chance to make something great of her life. Which is why my jaw dropped yesterday when speaking with another parent about my program during our kindergarten registration.
I had explained to her what the program's goals are, how her daughter's day would be spent, and how much success we have had. She then turns to her 5 year old and says, "What do you think honey, do you want to learn Spanish?" To which the little "angel" replies, no, with a shake of her head. So her mom says, "Well, she's very opinionated, so if she doesn't want to, I think we'll pass." Uhhhh....seriously? Like....really? I mean...you're kidding right? You are going to let a FIVE YEAR OLD make THAT kind of a decision? Wow. I must be behind the times. I guess I should give in to my 4 year old, withdraw him from preschool for next year, and let Lauren chew gum every minute of every day.