My granddaughter went with me for a walk in the woods. I showed her a spot that I thought would be perfect for building a fort and she agreed. She went to work immediately, removing forest debris and then gathering logs and sticks to define the walls of the club house. She even made a doorway. Finally, she picked some flowers for making a Hansel and Gretel path from the fort to the trail.
I discovered that exclusivity begins at a very early age. Remember, she is only four. Halfway through the building process, she told me I needed to make a sign to put by the door. The sign is to read, “No adults allowed. Kids only!”
What? My productivity dropped in an instant! I asked myself if this was a teachable moment or just plain funny coming from a four year old. I decided it’s the latter. Kids need to learn to function without Mom and Dad, (that’s part of what Grandma camp is all about) and while at her age, she is going to need their help in building an actual fort, it’s natural for kids to want a place just for them to have some adventure.
Balance is the key, of course. The day will come for the teachable moments about exclusivity – which leads to prejudice. We teach them their good behavior – or bad – whether we realize it or not. Our children learn by association and simple observation of our habits, our words, and our actions. We are their role model, so we get to choose. I hope I always chose wisely.