Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Of Tots and Teens...

We have spent the past couple of weeks slowly revamping the house to prepare for a small handful of tots (think infant, toddler tots) in the Fall. As we create "tot space" we are simultaneously keeping space aside for the teens in our tiny little homeschool co-op.

It is crazy, really. This need to provide separate spaces...knowing full well..that tots and teens do, and will, mingle.

We are off to a slow start on the revamping process. Our back deck needed a lot of work. But it is done!!!! We now have one large tot-safe back deck complete with 3 locking gates. One of these gates will open into...deck #2. Deck #2..which will lead to the pool (also with another gate). Deck #2 is the official teen deck. It is not built yet.

But this separation of tots and teens is not limited to the deck. Dining? Oh..how about the dining room table for the teens, the kitchen for the tots? Inside space? Tots can hang in the living room, kitchen and morning room. Teens? The den and dining room.  Bathrooms? Tots in the hall bathroom. Teens in our master bathroom. Outdoor space? Tots in the enclosed part of the yard (still needs to be enclosed, by the way) Teens to the open part of the yard, pool or tree-house.

It seems so unnatural to create space in our home this way. Yet I understand the legalities of why...and I know full well..that on Monday mornings (when co-op meets) Tots and teens together will be in our kitchen/dining room to grab muffins, play with eachother and live life as it should be. Even if only for a brief moment before the craziness of the day kicks in.

But hey..both the little people and the big people do have official spaces to call their own now. Cody and Levi both seem to think this is a good thing.But for a homeschooling mom that often resisted a separate space for the kids learning to happen, this is a pretty big step.

In theory anyway, while the teens are editing eachothers essays in the dining room? The tots can play outside on the deck. While the teens discuss revolutions in the den, the tots can parallel play in the living room.

But all this separation nonsense aside, they are too much alike, these tots and teens. I mean let's face it. While tots (or tot as the case may be) pretends the flyswatter is a vacum cleaner? (we have an unused fly-swatter ..I promise) A teen vacums. While the tot pretends to cook a teen actually cooks. While a tot decorates himself with a marker, the teens decorate eachother with the same marker.

And then of course is food. Toddlers and teens actually have similar diets. Fruit, muffins, oatmeal, popsicles, cheese, etc. But diet and behaviour are  just the surface similarities.

It's the inside stuff that really intrigues me. Little ones learn to share. You know, real basic share your toy kinda stuff. The teens? Are learning to share ideas, thoughts, feelings. Just as the tots are learning to communicate verbally, the teens are learning to communicate through the written word.

But most important of all is the art of  nurturing that is being absorbed. Babies are held and nurtured. Toddlers are held and nurtured. Teens are listened to and nurtured.

In imitation of this nurturing the tots practice by nurturing a doll, a stuffed bear, etc. Even if only for a few moments before running over said bear with a truck. But the teens! The teens not only nurture the tots..they hold each other in that sacred space of listening. The teens I know see themselves and others as beings worthy of their time and attention. Even if, sometimes especially if, they disagree. And that valuing of others is something we, as middle aged adults, sometimes forget how to do.

So as the tots and teens in my house spend the summer laughing, crying, playing with swords, listening to music and sleeping...sleeping....sleeping.... Big B and I continue to plug along at home remodeling.

You know..so we can all-tots, teens and adults- share a muffin together.

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