Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. Juliano, Marla Darwin, Monica Eleazar-Manzano, Rossana Unson, and Ronna Capili-Bonifacio tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.
Just a little shy of a whole week, little bub finally did it. She dove underwater all by herself. She’s been spending every waking moment in the village pool since the beginning of the summer preschool break. First, in the safety of her floaties, and just this week, she found the confidence to step into the baby pool without any aid, gradually dipping her head until she was capable of grabbing toys on the pool floor. All without any coaching from our end. And we intend to keep her summer that way. An unstructured time to discover herself.
It’s a debate with social norms, myself, and even with immediate family whether or not we should enroll her in summer classes. On one side of the spectrum, which even include her teachers, good meaning folks talk about the need for educational endeavors, structure, and schedule at her age. On the other end, studies on the significance of boredom point that doing nothing is as good as doing something. Summers free from structured and scheduled activities bring back memories of good ‘ol days when I used to be in command of my playtime. I want that for my child.
It’s somewhat a no-brainer for me, growing up practically having to entertain myself most of my childhood. Summers were always about free play. I did feel left out though when I learned of a peer trying out gymnastics, painting, guitar, piano, or swimming classes during the break. But I was already in grade school then, about eight to 10 years old, when I could make decisions for myself.
But my hubby has a different stance. My in-laws saw summer classes as building blocks of character and sources of life skills, and that learning shouldn’t end when school’s out. Hubs and his sibs took on different hobbies the parents agreed on each summer. From sports to musical instruments, the theme was set and they picked the details. For example, one summer’s theme was music and hubs chose piano while his sister took violin. He told me stories about trying to wiggle out of the classes sometimes, or dragging his feet out of bed to do the ones that least interest him, but in the end, he’s grateful he tried them all because it taught him discipline, and it led him to develop skills on hobbies he loved doing most, like playing football and piloting private airplanes.
The pressure to decide on whether I should put little bub in summer school or not increase as I hear friends talk about what their toddlers are set to do during the break. Will little bub lag behind? And then, this week, when she jumped into the pool and dove underwater, when she glowed with pure joy and pride as she waved the toy in the air, she changed my mind. We’ll do this our way. Marrying what I have been reading about, what hubs and I experienced as children, and my little bub’s character, I know that letting her discover the things that interest her, and me acting as the channel in which she can completely learn about the hobby, is the way to go. She leads, I follow, assist, and sometimes guide her. Instead of me or classes dictating what she’s supposed to do, I’m giving her the reigns, showing her the options, and letting her decide.
So far, it’s not just swimming. She’s taken interest in reading and biking as well. I base the pastimes on her mood before I lay out the activities. In between are hours of pretend play where she’s immersed in her own world. It’s been a delight watching her not just unearth her creativity, imagination, and resourcefulness, but also seeing how it translates positively in her social interactions and confidence in who she is.
When the time comes and she chooses summer activities, I’ll be as supportive as well. For now, I’ll let her have her childhood. This fleeting stage is all she has to devote her free time to unadulterated play.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Yayie Motos