Enjoy the Moment

This week, for my observation and assessment course, I wrote up the following directions for a journaling assignment:

Observe a child without taking notes or worrying about observing for assessment or curricular planning. Instead, let yourself be with the child as he/she openly shares his/her enthusiasm and energy. Appreciate him/her as they enjoy the pleasures of being a child. Celebrate and enjoy what they do.

In your journal, share your feelings as you watched the child run, jump, and climb. Talk about the importance of being in the moment with children and having the appreciation for being part of their enthusiasm and zest for life.

The activity was taken from the course textbook, Focused Observations: How to Observe Children for Assessment and Curriculum Planning by Gaye Gronlund and Marlyn James, and as I copied the words I was struck by how very little I do of simply enjoying the moment. I, as I’m sure many do, get so caught up in what needs to be done next, I let the moment I’m in just slip on past. Furthermore, this activity calls for not only enjoying the moment, but for enjoying a moment with a child – and those moments are the most precious we will ever spend. So, why is it so hard to stop and just be? To appreciate children for being children and celebrating the things they enjoy doing? Contemplating these questions reminded me of a poem I wrote for my daughter when she was two years old that I would like to share with you here…

For Natalie

You bring out the little girl in me,
dolls with bottles to feed and burp
singing ABC with B instead of D
tea party with real china and pretend tea

You bring out the sister in me,
wanting to do what I do just like she did
mimicking my talk and mannerisms
sitting by my side doing “homework”

You bring out the friend in me,
“play with me mommy”
and hold my hand, cuddle me close
‘til I’m all grown-up

You bring out the engineer in me,
making a box into an oven
musical plates out of colored paper
bean bags from popcorn and thread

You bring out the educator in me,
teaching you what’s really important
like who made the stars and who you can trust
that prayers can be poems
expressed to the One who knows you best

You bring out the clock in me,
my hands just keep going and going
though I know I should stop
just to enjoy you and not worry
about the time it takes to cook supper or fold laundry

You bring out the me in me,
as only you can do
because you’re a little part of me
who will grow up to reflect
the choices I’ve made, the faith I’ve shared
the woman that I am today

The essence of this poem is that my daughter is growing up fast and if I don’t stop and enjoy her and the things I accomplish with her, I will regret it. The little two year old I wrote that poem for is now almost nine, and I feel like I still haven’t figured out how to just stop and enjoy the moments. Yet, when I read words like that journaling assignment, or revisit this poem and its words still ring true, I know I need to make a more concentrated effort to be in the moment with my children. We all need to do this. In the field of early childhood, we are impacting children every day and every day they are impacting us. If all they see is the busyness that keeps us from enjoying children for just being children, what kind of message are we imparting to the next generation? So, I urge you, today and every day, STOP and enjoy the moment with a child – I plan to.

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Jennifer Anderl is an Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator, Brooklyn Park, MN college campus.

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