Last month we visited my parents and sister for a family vacation. I was excited to see that Vacation Bible School at my parents' church was scheduled for part of our visit. I signed my kids up, and paused for a second when I realized my almost four year old wouldn't be able to participate. The cutoff was forty days before her birthday.
I talked to the director via email and tried to sweet talk her into letting my three year old in."She's tall, she's in school, and her best friend is a five year old!" I said. She suggested I bring her to the nursery class they were offering for kids of volunteers, and said they'd be participating in some of the stuff the big kids were. Because our church plant is small and they don't get to be around that many kids their age very often, I was really excited for them to be able to participate -- so, I said yes.
The first day I was nervous when I saw that my three year old's class was mostly diapered kids. I felt really anxious all morning, and wondered if she'd even want to go back.
I picked her up, and she'd obviously had a great time.
My oldest is five, and will be heading into kindergarten this fall. She's spunky and outgoing, and I had no qualms about her being totally up for VBS with a bunch of strangers. It turns out, she was a little overwhelmed, while my three year old totally thrived.
I think part of that's because my five year old was on the young, young end of her group, while my three year old was exactly where she should have been.
The whole thing was such a great reminder -- I think we all want the best experience for our kids, and because we know them best, we're often equipped to make good decisions for them. But I've also noticed that I tend to think my kids are ready for the next step even if the rules say they shouldn't be.
Last month's VBS experience was great all-around, but it was specifically an important reminder to stop rushing things, and let them be little. My three year old can do a lot, but that doesn't mean she should be pushed all of the time. Because part of loving my kids well is simply celebrating them where they are.
Am I the only one who needs this reminder? Have you had similar experiences?
How can we love our kids well by loving them where they are?
Kristi is a writer, church planter's wife, and mom to three pretty spectacular little girls. Find more at her blog "And Babies Don't Keep."