A reflection by Eileen Sharbaugh, Nursery School Director
The holiday season has arrived and with it increased stimulation and longer to-do lists. Calendars are filling up and advertisements overwhelm our mailboxes. Christmas decorations began to appear weeks ago. I recall and readily relate to the observant sentiment of Cindy Lou Who in the Jim Carey movie The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. As Cindy Lou and her dad walk together in the busy streets of Whoville she notes, “Everybody seems so kerbabbled. Isn’t this just a little superfluous?” Cindy Lou was overwhelmed and was trying to make sense of the flurry of activity all around her. Cindy Lou’s dad on the other hand barely slows down to respond to her wonderings, but instead, quickly assures her that the chaos she sees, is what the season is all about.
It’s no surprise that Cindy and her dad had different responses to the Who’s in Whoville who were scurrying around decorating and buying in preparation for the big ‘Whobilation’. We know that adults are less sensitive to stimulation than children. Our developed brains and years of experience make us better equipped to filter out stimulation. As a result, overstimulation may not be something we as adults easily detect. We must recognize that young children are not as well equipped. Children are sensitive, absorbent and can be easily over-stimulated. Preschoolers and babies (yes, even infants can be overstimulated) are not able to filter out stimulation the way older children and adults are. For young children, less really is more, and usually best.
At St. Paul’s Nursery School, we recognize the importance of keeping things simple, peaceful, predictable, and age-appropriate. We know that children feel the calmest, happiest and most confident when they know what to expect. We are committed to keeping things as low-key and routine as possible over the next several weeks, understanding this is what young children need. We also recognize that children have an amazing capacity to enjoy, explore and reflect upon things that may seem very simple to us, especially in our hurried and overly complex adult lives. Perhaps we can take a cue from these youngsters and rather than frantically trying to make this the “best Christmas ever” perhaps we can allow ourselves and our families the luxury of enjoying and rediscovering simple traditions. In doing less, we may ultimately do ourselves and our families a great favor.
“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” Matthew 11:25