Sunday, November 15, 2009


Whew.  As many of my know, I just survived a Big Birthday. The good news is that the mean neighbor across the back fence didn't complain (yet) about all the noise and revelry while friends helped me cope with this birthday.  The bad news is that right on schedule, my knee started acting up the day after I turned this new older age.  I've never had knee problems before!  I'm falling apart!

Oh well.  Ages and stages...... we enter new stages and find new challenges all through life.  But I have to believe that we gain more than we lose.  Well, weight-wise at this age, yes.... but even more so in terms of emotional growth. I've been fussing and worrying and grieving about aging and loss and change for the past year, as I prepared for this milestone. But the better parts of me have been getting ready for it in a smarter way. My inner self is getting ready for a wonderful time in my life.

Now I think I'm ready to be this age, and to enjoy it.

I'm a firm believer in human development theory as a force for good.  I think if everyone had a very solid foundation in child development, say in high school, and then if it was reinforced and expanded in college general ed. requirements,  the world would be a better place.  For example, reading a little bit about the theories of Arnold Gesell we learn that people go through periods of equilibrium and disequilibrium as a normal and expected part of the developmental process. Disequilibrium consists of discomfort and difficulty, but is often very necessary in order for an individual to progress to a new stage of development. Depending on temperament and other factors, disequilibrium is more dramatic for some people than it is for others. We have to go through the storm to get to the sunshine on the other side. And soaking up the sun during the relatively easy stages of life helps prepare and strengthen us for the next developmental storm.

For many years, our preschool has been recommending that parents read the little books about these theories so that they can fully understand what to expect. (Your One Year Old by Louise Bates Ames.  Then Your Two Year Old.  Your Three Year Old.  Etc.  The series goes up to age 9, then Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old.  You can get these books at libraries, or find them used on Amazon or other places for next to nothing.) These books are published by the nonprofit Gesell Institute and could stand some updating in terms of the examples they use, but the main content is based on solid longitudinal research and will always offer extremely sound advice.

Adults are not immune to disequilibrium. I've been thrashing around in it again for a couple of years, but I think I'm seeing the sun breaking through the clouds now, and I'm looking forward to the next decade with a lot of joy.

I'm so glad I know at least a little bit about this stuff, because it helps me understand myself better.  And guess what:  when I understand myself better, I'm much less toxic to other people, especially children, while I'm in disequilibrium. I'm still a big pain in the neck sometimes (ask my husband and kids and a few close friends) but I think I'd be worse if I understood less about the process I'm going through.

See why this should be part of our general education curriculum? It's powerful knowledge.

When I go to preschool tomorrow I know that some of the children will be in the process of finding life extremely difficult right now.  Others will be very, very happy to be two! The rest will be somewhere in-between.  It fascinates me to know that all their parents, like me, have not "arrived," now that they are adults, but are also following their own unique and often difficult developmental path which includes occasional periods of disequilibrium. I hope I can be of at least a little bit of help to them as well as to the children.

But right now I gotta go- I still have some balloons and streamers to clean up, and probably should go take something for this aching knee......

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