When I stepped out of my classroom, a tousle-haired boy was parting ways in the hallway with his older brother who headed down the first-grade hallway. They gave each other that “bye bro…I’ve got your back” head nod. As the younger of the two walked toward me in the World Language hallway, my immediate thought was, “oohhh…this little guy is going the wrong way, clearly, he needs to go to his pre-k classroom. So I dusted off my “save the day” mom cape and approached him. “Are you in pre-k?” “Yes,” he said shyly. “Who is your teacher?” “Ms. Claire,” he said. “Okay, let’s go find your class together.” I encouraged him with a gentle nudge in the opposite direction. As we approached his classroom, we peeked into the quiet, empty space. “Hmmm, they’re not here.” I declared as if I was the only one to notice. A hushed statement came from my new companion. “What’s that?” I asked. His brown eyes met mine and in a calm, forgiving tone said “I have French class now”. “Oh no! You have French…you knew where you were going in the first place. I am so sorry!” I held out the word “so” like a VanTrap family singer…hoping it would overshadow my brazen redirecting. “It’s okay,” he said, quickly retracing his steps, as I hollered penitently, “I do that to my own kids all the time!! Arvoir!”
It’s true. I nudge. I encourage. I pave smoothly lined paths in my head with ideas and suggestions for our kids, in hopes of a happy future. But because mine are like yours, the little voice inside their heads making decisions is set to a much louder volume than that of my heaviest dose of yelling. So much like my 4-year-old friend who knew where he was headed, our kids are trying to live their best lives and go in their own direction. Let them go, let them follow their north star, let them lead…let them know you’re there for them no matter what they do at the fork in the road.