Monday, July 12, 2010

A Different Kind of Fun

The Chihuly exhibit at Cheekwood was beautiful.  It was lovely to see glass art that mimics nature installed at a botanical garden.  It enhanced both the gardens and the glass to see them together.  My girls had so much fun - fun playing with friends, fun taking pictures of the glass art, fun running around the gardens.  I had fun, too - hanging out with women that I don't always get to see and seeing my favorite Cheekwood installation so far (even better than the fairy tale houses).

I also realized that coming to Cheekwood with a larger group is a different experience than bringing just my daughters or my daughters plus a friend or two.  Walking through the gardens with a larger group requires more coordination, more patience, a slower pace and more compromise.  All of this is fine with me, but was challenging for my 8 year old, B.  The very things that I love most about her - her bold spirit, her curiosity, her independence - make it difficult for her to navigate group dynamics. 

Actually, it makes it difficult for me to navigate group dynamics with her along.  She just does things the way she always does them, regardless of who is with her.  Therein lies the problem.  While I don't mind letting B walk along the edge of the pond, leap from one side to the other or dip her fingers and toes into to water, she's not the ideal role model for a two year old.  When we're at Cheekwood with a smaller group, it's easier to manage B's desire to leap from one thing to the next.  But with a larger group, it's tough to keep up with her.  She's not being bad.  She's not being disobedient.  She's just curious at a faster pace than most of us.

As I decompressed from a fun, but tiring day, it occurred to me that learning to navigate group dynamics is yet another benefit of the Fun Jar.  It helps a strong and curious child like B begin to understand that sometimes in order to be around others, you have to let someone else lead once in a while.  B would tell you that she doesn't want to be a leader and I've told her that's too bad because she is one anyway.  The difference is that she leads because she knows exactly what she wants, not because she cares whether anyone else follows.  There's value in that, without a doubt.  I love that she knows her heart and follows it.  But I want her to be comfortable in a group.  I want those in a group with her to be comfortable.  So it's wise to spend part of our summer with new and old friends learning the art of compromise while admiring the art around us.

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