Seeing with RIE Eyes

My first thought was what a gift to say the cover quote to a child…and to really feel that for them. But then I realized…it is a gift to say it to myself and to you…we are all on a path of learning, healing, growth, and discovery. I’ve been on this path for 20 years now (well, 40+, but this RIE path for 20 of them), but I keep learning something new each day. So many of you are stepping onto this RIE path with your infants and toddlers, and as they grow, so will you, and so will your self-discovery.

The quote came to me from Child Care Exchange, which I love for its daily dose of inspiration and resources, but the video that came with it was a little bit of a surprise for me. Maybe you’ve seen it making its way ‘round the interwebs, but if not, here it is in all its TikTok glory.

You may think I’m sharing it for the very reason it went viral (and the reason, perhaps that CCE shared it): because so many people were astounded to hear such a young child speak so fluidly and fully about emotions…his emotions, his parents’ emotions, what caused them, and strategies for calming them. And yes, I was impressed, I’ll say that, but surprised?

Not hardly.

This is the kind of emotional granularity that grows in children with present parents. Parents who allow space for children’s big emotions, who talk with them about those emotions and feelings. Parents who share their own emotions and their own strategies for calming themselves. When you start so young, is it any wonder that they develop empathy and retain self-awareness at such a young age?

Full disclosure, I don’t know if this family practices RIE, but I’d definitely say that they are likely “RIE on the inside.” Further full disclosure, I don’t expect every family who practices RIE to have children who are so verbally expressive about their emotions, he is definitely a bright kiddo…but well, perhaps you recall that I learned about RIE in a childcare center that, while open to the community, was built for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada. I cared for children of legit rocket scientists, and for a while I thought that was why the children were so brilliant. But what I realized after I left the program was that RIE lets me see all children’s brilliance.

And that’s something that I think so many well-meaning “mainstream” adults miss when it comes to seeing, really seeing, children. A friend sent me a news clip of a 5-year-old calling 911 because her Dad had a heart attack (he survived!). You can watch it here, but I’d prefer to spare you the clip, not because it was traumatizing or anything, but because it was rather obnoxious to listen to the pedantic anchor and all of the audience gasps and “aww”s. 🙄 This kid managed to call 911, listen to and follow directions, give her Dad encouragement, alert 911 to the presence of a dog in the house (unprompted), and when she had the very human reaction of wanting to change out of pjs into street clothes before first responders arrived, the audience verbally shook their heads at her silliness. Gah! I don’t mean to pick on the audience, truly, but this is another example of how so often our society underestimates children.

Magda is famous for saying that she sees differently…a blessing as well as a curse, she says, because you see how many “well-meaning, kind, nice adults, don’t treat infants with respect…they manipulate them, they love them, they tickle them…they do many, many things, but they don’t show respect.…they use them as objects…they may be objects of love, objects of pride…but that’s not what a little individual needs. [We allow babies and children] to become real, authentic, genuine. To move. To feel the way they really move and feel.” And in this way, we develop an appreciation of the fullness of who they are. That can make it uncomfortable in the world at large, but oh so fulfilling in your own home, no?

So, love yourself a little extra right now because you’re making space for your child’s evolving, learning, healing, growing, and self-discovery. It’s about to get magical for them. And for you.

PS.. Looking for a preschool that really sees children? Check out Caterpillar Cottage, here in the San Fernando Valley…before you do, read up a little on this special center’s special director, Heather Malley.