Childhood is marked by experiences that lay the ground work for all future stages in life. Think back to your own childhood. Can you see how the events of your youth influenced the person you are today? Maybe as a child you were inquisitive-fearless to a fault. Are you now just as bold, or have you become more reserved? Were you always told “no” as a child? Do you respond now by saying “yes” to everything? When I was a child, my mom always dressed me in cute dresses and skirts. I did not get my first pair of jeans until I was thirteen! Now that I am an adult, I am all about wearing pants, and I collect jeans. Certainly, we all carry bits of our past with us into the present.
Knowing the significance of the childhood experience, I often observe my children as they negotiate through life. I wonder how their many experiences will impact their futures. From the exploration of new objects to a scrape on the knee-these things all have the potential to be significant. Having three children (ages 9 months, 3 and 6 years old) I get an up-close and personal look at the various seasons of childhood development, all at once. I see my 9-month-old as he enters into the stage of discovery where everything must be tasted. I listen as my 3-year-old, the classic middle child, declares, “You’re not listing to me!” From a slight distance, I watch as my oldest child, having just entered first grade, learns to formulate friendships and navigate new social situations.
As a parent, I am blessed to witness my children blossom into little people with minds and thoughts of their own. At times, the clingy mom-in-me wants to resist the idea that my children are growing older and changing with each passing day. The rational, well-informed mom-in-me knows that one of the great joys of childhood is that it allows a certain explorative, inquisitive freedom that is priceless. So occasionally I let my 9-month-old chew on the remote control-I think he’s finally realizing the remote is not food. When my 3-year-old proclaims that I’m not listening, I respond by giving him my full attention and explaining every little detail about whatever he may so inquire. And as my first-grader goes off into the big, bad world of school, I take my cues from him-no more mommy-kisses as I drop him off at the front door. The other kids do no think that’s cool.
I cannot say for certain how the experiences of today will affect my children tomorrow. Maybe the baby will be a world-renowned chef. My 3-year-old could grow up to be the male version of Oprah-everyone will want to listen to him, at all times. As for my 6-year-old-well, perhaps one day he’ll let me have a kiss every now and again. Whatever the future holds, I can be quite content knowing that despite myself, I have allowed my children the freedom to explore the world around them in a way that fosters their continual growth across all the seasons of their lives.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please contact The Stone Foundation by clicking here, or by phone at 410-296-2004.
Melissa Brooks-Cuffee holds two Bachelor of Science degrees from Towson University: one in Psychology, the other in English. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Baltimore. Melissa has held various administrative roles within the healthcare and mental healthcare field.