1 a : settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions
It's funny sometimes the way we learn lessons. My daughter B is bold, strong and creative. She's also not too keen on ever compromising. The thought of making a concession, even when someone else is also conceding something, is anathema to B. So I'm working to help her understand that life always requires compromise, even when doing something fun.
Last Friday, we went to the Chihuly exhibit at Cheekwood. 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.
But visiting 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, more compromise. All of this is fine with me, but 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. So the size and makeup of our group in some ways dictates what boundaries I set for B. I learned long ago that it's better to let her skirt the edges of established boundaries and simply take life's natural consequences when they come. If she tries to climb on a set of monkey bars at a playground and falls because they are too difficult for her, she adapts her style of play the next time around.
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 wants to catch frogs, investigate the part of the pond just out of our sight, check out the fountain by the mansion that is not on our way to the next exhibit installation. She's not being bad. She's not being disobedient. She's just curious at a faster pace than most of us.
But B has to learn to be more flexible. I hope in time she will see that following the path another chooses lets you learn and see things you'd miss out on otherwise. And learning to navigate group dynamics is a 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.