A guide is (so says Mr. Webster)
- a person who leads or directs other people on a journey
- a person who shows and explains the interesting things in a place
- a person who helps to direct another person's behavior, life, career, etc.
- a person who is a father or mother : a person who has a child
- an animal or plant that produces a young animal or plant
- something out of which another thing has developed
There is a great post on Just Wanderlust about characteristics of a great tour guide. If you have been reading my blog, you may remember I have a fond appreciation for tours. I believe all of the points can be related to parenting but some favorites are:
From the section on time management -
"A great tour guide is aware of the start and end time but is flexible with the time and will tailor the day based on your interests and your time constraints. Great tour guides never rush you as they are on your schedule."
Children don't know about clocks or time. They don't know what being patient means. They don't know that you have a tight schedule, or even what a schedule is. As parents, keeping kids going in the direction we need them to and at a pace we need them to is difficult. But sometimes it is possible to literally, stop and smell the roses. And look at the color. And talk about thorns and bugs, and dirt, and rain, and oh look! That flower is pretty too! ...and you are now enjoying the whole garden.
Another great section is on color commentary -
"A great tour guide is a gifted story teller who is passionate about the attraction he’s showing you. His historical accounts will take you back in time. He’ll weave in personal anecdotes about what it’s like to live there including the good, the bad, and the ugly… and you’ll even laugh. He’ll not only tell you about the culture, he’ll incorporate some cultural experiences into the tour (e.g., stopping for mint tea in Morocco or sampling putrefied shark in Iceland). He’ll talk to you like you are long-time friend in town for a visit."
Kids love stories. In fact, research shows that children who are read to are more likely to remain life long learners, not because of vocabulary or content of the story, but because an emotional bond was established with a parent at an early age when being read to.
But stories don't just come from books. They can come from our minds and our lives. Tell your child a story. Any kind will do. They will benefit regardless of the topic.
And the last bit I'll share from this great post, is about the initial introduction to a group.
"The best guides spend the tour getting to know the guests on the tour that day and not in an intrusive way but in a way that shows genuine interest. It could be during the car ride, over lunch/drinks, or as you walk from site to site."
With babies, it can be difficult, as language is not a skill they are able to master until later. But they speak through smiles, they speak through curiosity, they speak through (yes, this too) showing displeasure. So, are you hearing your child?
One of my favorite times in my day is the drive to daycare in the morning, and the drive home when daycare is done. It is a short few moments, where my daughter is sharing exciting things that are in her head. Every morning, we have our rituals: we round a bend and see the Chicago Skyline and shout, "Good morning Chicago!" and off we go, talking about the color of Lake Michigan that day, if the birds are napping in the harbor or if the fishermen have caught anything. We talk about what she would like to do when I pick her up, and we sing silly songs.
She and I don't have a meeting at the table with pencil and paper to discuss these things, but they happen, in real time. I know that these little snippets will make harder conversations later in life come a bit easier. And then, I will be a guide in a different way - talking and listening about bullies in school, talking and listening about persistence, and talking and listening about about her goals.
The crazy thing about this whole guide/guided journey, is she is my guide also. It is not just give give give. And it isn't just take take take. We get to help each other, guide each other through this parent/child relationship. For her and I, it started even before she was born- her telling me through position and discomfort how to move my body so she could best travel into the world. It won't end until, hopefully, a very long time has passed.
I am so excited for this adventure!
Authored by A Swift Doula