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Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Matters To Your Child

As my son-in-law was sorting socks with my nearly five-year-old granddaughter this morning, I remembered a time when my son was in kindergarten. He came home from school one day incensed that I had sent him to school with two different colored socks.

In my defense, I have never been good with dark colors. Unless I am sitting in direct sunlight, forest green, brown, black, navy blue, and purple look the same to me. So on the day my son came home in utter humiliation that I had embarrassed him by dressing him with two different colored socks (I wonder why he didn't notice them when I put them on him), I devised a plan.

On laundry days when I washed socks, we played the Sock Sort game where all socks got laid out on the couch and everybody pitched in to see how many matches we could find. It didn't take everybody too long a time to figure out that the Sock Sort game was actually work, so when they tired of "the game," I threw the socks in separate drawers and allowed everybody to find his or her own matching socks.

Appearance, even at an early age, is very important to children. I would find the girls draping themselves in necklaces, earrings, bracelets, hats, and crowns while my son labored over his hair cut. I loved is curly locks. He hated them. Though he was only 5 years old, I allowed him to choose his own hair style. Apparently even then he was grooming himself to be a Marine.

So while they sometimes choose mismatched clothes, or they sometimes look like Madonna in her early years, children define who they are by the choices they make. And if we allow them to pursue their own goals, we find unique individuals who discover who they are through their choices.

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