Saturday, February 7, 2015

Have You Observed Your Teen Lately?

I have to admit to not having read much lately in terms of Maria Montessori's approach to teenagers. But observation was definitely a key thing for the early years; surely it's just as important in the later years?

When was the last time you observed your teen? Have you ever--in the same way you might have observed your preschooler or elementary child? I'm not sure I have, or perhaps I do observe or notice things, but I don't sit and just observe the way I used to. And this thought came to mind today and has me thinking.

One thing I observed in my son (14) today, and my husband commented on it, is that he is just not in a rush to do anything or get anywhere. He was invited to his "brother from another mother's" house (lol--his cousin, the one who started in my dayhome at the age of 18 months and my son was 15 months; the two are strongly bonded) for a sleepover this evening. My husband and I were out when we got the invite; I assumed our son knew because he knows these things ahead of time. We got home and I asked if he knew; he didn't know it had been confirmed. He had started his laundry and just had to put it into the dryer. Okay. That done, I napped. I woke up from my nap and his laundry was still going and he was still in his pyjamas (at 4 in the afternoon). We had said we could drop him off around 5, and it's about a 25-minute drive from our place. At some point, while he was waiting for his clothes, he checked them, saw he had another 10 minutes and I told him he could get everything else ready: sleeping bag, pillows, toothbrush... He went to the basement and put the sleeping bag and sleep mat. His clothes were ready shortly before 4:30, at which point I texted his aunt that he was going to be late. He took his clothes into his room and shut the door. 10-15 minutes later, I knock, asking if I can come in. He said he's changing. I don't know if he was changing for 10-15 minutes or packing before changing or what, put it's one night. His sister would have been changed and back packed in that time easily. At the age of 10.

Finally, he was dressed and I go in and we chatted about what else he needed to get ready. He didn't have his toothbrush packed; that was the last thing he did. Didn't have his pillows downstairs (yes, he insists on having two, even though my observation is that when I peek in before he's up, his head isn't on a single one). But it honestly took him 5 minutes to do I'm not even sure what. He is always eager to go to his cousin's, but it doesn't somehow translate into speed. And this has honestly been something I've noticed since he was little. He was pretty much always the last one to get outside--even if he was the first one to start getting ready. To the point that sometimes, his cousins and sister had been outside for 10-15 minutes before he was ready to head out. His other aunt noticed the same thing that past winter when he was over there, everybody got ready to head out into the snow and there my son was, 5-10 minutes later, still not ready.

I wish I could observe the actual thought processes that are going on while he does all of this. Is this just his style? Is it something to leave alone or to work with him on? Is he lost in thought? Does he have trouble with executive planning? What is going on inside that brain of his?

It doesn't help that I'm probably the one who speeds through many things. We're heading to the store? Okay. 5 minutes later, I'm dressed, hair's brushed and make-up on. And then I'm trying to figure out what to do with myself as I wait for my husband, who's not so much slow as much as he can easily get caught up in other things, like looking out the window at the construction going on on the other side of the street. Typically, I'll start doing something else while I wait, but then he sees me doing something else and thinks I'm not ready, so he starts doing something while he waits for me, but because he has a tendency to do other things before really being ready--even if I'm at the door in my coat--I don't realize he's ready. lol. Ah, but that's a whole other issue.

So... I have this observation: My son is slow at getting ready (going to the bathroom, having a shower, eating snacks...). But I don't have enough information with my observation. I'm going to have to observe more or start questioning him more. Or observe more first and then ask him, "What were you thinking when...?"

I'm actually looking forward to observing my teens a bit and hope I'll remember to do so this week. Clearly, I can't observe my son this evening and my daughter is currently napping (although, that is not to say that you can't observe some things while someone sleeps, like position, twitching, how restless, breathing...), but perhaps I will pay a little more attention to what my daughter does this evening when she's in my presence. If even it's only to just love having her there. :)

So, have you observed your teen (or any other age of child) lately? What have you noticed? Any amazing conclusions you've come to?

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