Thursday, August 12, 2010

a leader amongst preschoolers

As I entered preschool to pick up the kids yesterday the associate director beckoned me over. "I just have to tell you something", she said. "Your Geekygirl is a born leader". I know that she has a vivid imagination and a knack for storytelling, but I was amazed to hear what followed. Apparently she has taken to telling her own stories to her friends. She sits in the outdoor book corner surrounded by ten or twelve other kids, and tells them stories. Long, complex stories that she pulls out of her imagination. The other children listen, rapt and quiet, only speaking to interject the odd idea or offer suggestions as to the direction of the tale Geekygirl is weaving. She is a miniature Scheherazade.  The teachers stand quietly and marvel at her, and yesterday and they called the associate director over to watch her in action. They have never seen anything like it.

I love how enthusiastic the teachers are about personality traits that back in the UK might be viewed a little differently. I suspect that back home she might be deemed a "bossy boots" and that "leadership qualities" in preschoolers might be seen as an irritant rather than a bonus! UK readers, please do correct me if I'm off the mark. Besides, she is a bit of a bossy boots, actually.

This observation of my daughter's budding leadership skills came just as this article showing that personality is formed by grade school was making the rounds on twitter and facebook. The article, followed by a lunchroom conversation with one of my lovely new co workers (incidentally also a Brit, there are actually four British women scientists in our group of twelve people!) reminded me of the television documentary series "seven up". Based upon the old Jesuit saying "Give me a boy until he is seven and I will show you the man" it follows fourteen children, aged seven in 1964, through their lives. In the last one they were all 49. There is one chap in particular who came to mind. Tony, who at seven was so full of enthusiasm that he words tumbled out at breakneck speed, who wanted to be a jockey, and who ultimately became a cab driver. The last I recall he had moved to Spain, and he truly did show the same optimism and joy for life that we saw in him at age seven at every stage of his life. The personality he had at age seven was essentially the same.

So if this bodes true then we've got a little leader on our hands. I feel the heavy mantle of responsibility. I won't be able to say, when she gets into trouble, that she was influenced by the wrong crowd. She's probably going to be the one leading your kid astray. I apologize in advance. My challenge is going to be to direct her powers for good. I'm hoping for a future head prefect, president of the school council, or  class valedictorian, (whatever that is). I'm dreaming fondly of my daughter the CEO, or University Provost, Inspiring teacher or International peacekeeper (though given her current propensity to throw playground bark chips at kids when they won't play with her dampens that one somewhat). As long as she doesn't start her own cult, or turn into California's version of Sarah Palin, then I'll be happy.