A daughter takes the imprint of what it means to be a woman from her mother. William Ross Wallace’s poem “What Rules the World” has the famous line,
“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world,” which extols motherhood as a paramount force in molding the character of a child.
A child will travel through a series of developmental stages. Many world traditions acknowledge the seven-year cycle in human development. In the Jesuit tradition a child is said to have reached the age of reason by age seven.
The first cycle is from birth to seven years of age. The beginning stage sets the foundation for the remainder of your child’s life. The early years influence the health and well-being of a child and will have an impact on them throughout their lifetime.
My older daughter is now in what some would say is the age of reason. She is 7 ½. I’ve read that at age seven a child’s brain has developed enough to take on abstract and symbolic reasoning. My own observation is that by age seven her thoughts and questions have developed an interesting level of depth.
The changes in the first cycle of the seven years were so easy to spot: baby rolls over, gets 1st tooth, baby says first word, crawls, sits up, takes 1st step. The changes in appearance at seven years old continue to happen at a quick clip. She is losing and gaining teeth. Her world view is no longer self-centered. She has the capacity to understand abstract thoughts, knows right from wrong, and understands that not all things are black and white, that there are shades of grey.
When she turned seven I told her that this age was considered the age of reason. She thought that was cool.
The complex game of chess, dubbed the “King’s Game,” requires the contemplation of both players using both short (tactics) and long range (strategy) planning with the ultimate goal of capturing the king. I figured since my older daughter is seven I could introduce her to chess. Her level of focus has developed through the years, she was ready.
I went slowly when I taught her; I could see her really grasping the rules and comprehending the abilities and strengths of the chess pieces. Playing with her the first time was quite exhilarating as her parent. We marked the occasion with a lovely cup of decaf lemon tea. Now that is our thing when we play, we always have a cup of tea!
Coincidentally, a six year old girlfriend of my older daughter’s stopped over this week and immediately noticed the chess board out in our living room. The little girl announced she knew a little bit of how to play chess. I told the girls to try a game while I brewed them a cup of decaf tea. It was fun to watch these two little girls engage in the game of chess.
Each day I witness my older daughter strengthen her inner moral compass. I see her mind stretching before her while she retains such quality information. This stage in childhood is really a lot of fun… all stages are, no doubt. But parenting a seven year old is much different than parenting a one year old. Both are equally extraordinary and challenging.
I am mothering with one foot in the first seven-year cycle group (ages birth – 7 years) with my younger daughter and the other foot in the second seven-year cycle (ages 7 – 14) with my older daughter.
As parents, my husband and I are doing our utmost to provide what we deem the *best* for our children. I realize the next stage for my older daughter will mark her leaving the innocence of childhood and progress into puberty. Puberty?!?!
I am so enjoying being the mother of these two little wonders, each in different life cycles – I am transfixed by them. I notice much of my older daughter’s developed thoughts when she does her science experiments. Yesterday she gathered samples and data for a cryogenics experiment. She relayed her predictions for her samples and recorded her findings in her science notebook. I could practically see the wheels turning in her head as she studied her data.
To quote William Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts. His acts being seven ages.” Shakespeare continues his poem by categorizing life by way of infancy, then the schoolboy age, and then the lover, transforming into a soldier full of pride and stubborn nature, then entering the justice stage fair and wise. The sixth age shifts with spectacles on nose yet a return to his youthful nature, followed by the last scene – the end of the eventful history we create.
In my personal life cycle measured by seven years I would fit in the category of 35-42 years. I am experiencing the desire to share what it is that I’ve gained through life with others, which apparently is quite normal at this age. It’s a time of facing up to what does and what does not satisfy me.
I can tell you with a pure heart that what I am doing with my kids and husband does satisfy me, on every level. Ah, I hear the tea kettle whistle – I have a date with a seven year old with – tea and chess!
Do you believe that when a child turns seven he/she enters the age of reason?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Courtney Cappallo of Massachusetts, USA. Courtney can be found homeschooling on her blog, Table of Four.
I love the ritual of having tea after each game of chess, Courtney, what a wonderful idea.
I do believe there is a change in children around the age of seven, although, if they are lucky, they still have one foot in fairyland.
Thanks! And my Sydney has one foot firmly planted in fairyland! I hope she always will!
I agree with Karyn, I really enjoyed this post. 🙂
For me it evoked a sense of nostalgia because my son also started playing chess when he was 7, and he was on his school’s chess team. Last week he turned 20!! I’m still having difficulty accepting that I’m the mother of a “child” who is not a teen any more! 😛
My “baby” will be 17 years old this May. These “stages” sure pass by quicker and quicker as you (and the kids) get older! 🙂
I am happy to read that you enjoyed my post! I agree with you that time flies by so much faster as children grow older.
I’m laughing because my 8 year old was definitely not being reasonable earlier today! that said 7 is a great age to start chess! I love the tea & chess combination!
There are many days when my 7 1/2 yr. old is not being reasonable either!
Courtney, how funny — we just sent the form in earlier this week to sign my daughter up for chess in her school. I know nothing about the game. I’m sending her to her dad for practice!! I was just commenting on Lady Jennie’s post that we have chosen chess because it is something my husband played growing up, and he really wanted her to have that same experience. But, I will drink tea with her anytime. 😉 Maybe I will learn how to play, too!
We haven’t reached 7 yet, but I enjoyed reading about the age of reason in this post. I look forward to the changes ahead for my daughters and, as Karyn puts it, with them also keeping one foot in fairyland!
I think you and I lead parallel lives! My husband plays a lot with Sydney, too. I’ve been teaching the basics to Emery (my 4 yr. old). She knows there are two players and that each player has 16 pieces. She knows the names of all the pieces and that the Knight is the only piece that can jump.
I hope that my girls will always have one foot firmly planted in fairyland!
In my faith we actually don’t baptize our children until their 8th birthday. We call 8, the age of accountability, meaning they now have a well developed concept of the difference between right and wrong. They are capable of making choices and have a good understanding of consequence. In that fashion, we do not recognize any notion of “sin” in a child younger than 8 years old.
In my psychology studies there is a great deal of data to support this shift in identify around ages 7 and 8.
The life as cycles of 7 year periods is a powerful one. Have you ever seen the UK documentary series “Seven Up”? It follows a group of 7 yr olds, meeting them again at 14, 21, 28, 35 and 42.
I have this odd feeling that I’ve seen “Seven Up”. I will definitely check it out, sounds so familiar. There is such a difference in my daughter within the last year, although she has such innocence in her eyes. I love looking in children’s eyes!
I’m still 5 years away from the age of reason but this gives me a lot to look forward to. What a beautiful post!
Every age is so fascinating! Having a 4 yr. old and 7 yr. old is so much fun. They really are such contributors to our conversations and have such interesting (and funny) ideas. They are a blast!
Loved this post Courtney. While I had heard the expression “age of reason”, I didn’t know anything about children reaching that milestone at about age 7 (which my oldest will be later this year). You’ve intrigued me….time to look for some reading on this…and will definitely look for the Seven Up documentary that Chrysula mentions.
Hope your daughter continues to enjoy learning to play chess. I remember learning at about her age as well 🙂
Thank you, Eva! I hope my girls continue to play chess, too. I am hoping that some of the kids they hang out with in the neighborhood play as well. What a gift for them all to play a *good* activity together. And, I love that you can bring chess anywhere and play!