A baby is born exerting powerful control over his mom and dad. He or she cries and Mom or Dad is quickly there to fix whatever is amiss. Every gurgle and sniffle, every facial expression and body motion is scrutinized by the parent for indications of how the baby is feeling and what needs it might have. But all too soon the baby becomes less dependent on Mom and Dad for every need. His or her power over them has lessened and this is not fair! How DARE they not run at his every whim! Of course such is life and at the same time the baby naturally strives for independence. There is a tension between the need for succor NOW and the need for growing independence.
From about the age of three to seven boys are fascinated with Superheroes. They talk about them, watch TV shows about them, and play with figures of them. Girls on the other hand tend to play with princesses. Boys want to dress up as superheroes, girls as princesses. A great deal of money is made by businesses catering to the fantasies of children; businesses such as publishers, toy manufacturers, producers of movies and cartoons, costume makers and even candy makers. But what makes a child so fascinated by these characters? The simple answer is that the children are so unlike them, but wish they were the same. The child is vulnerable, small, doesn't understand the world and has little power over anything in it, unlike their baby self which their psyche still remembers. But Superheroes! They have it all. They are magical. Princesses have power and are always very beautiful with wonderful clothes. Their wishes can be fulfilled with commands. Superheroes have strengths beyond human nature and are come to the rescue of those who are weak and in need. Superheroes and princesses understand and control their environment. They are never frustrated, unsure or incapable of any task set before them. Not so a little child.
So we come to practice. Is it any wonder that a young child whose mind wishes it could be superhuman balks at practicing with the opponent, that difficult, confusing, even frightening instrument? As with so many other things in a child's life, a child's commands and desires mean nothing to an instrument's technical demands. They are powerless. The child behaves as if only there was magic available. If only they had control and power.
Dr. Suzuki said that before he teaches he mentally prepares himself for the five-year-old mind. "I want to come down to their physical limitations and up to their sense of wonder and awe." Parents, can you do the same? Will you please plan practices with small enough steps so that your child can manage them and feel as if they have some control over their opponent? Thank you.
© 2014 Susan Sommerville