I remember a few years ago, when I was having a bit of trouble with Trev, he may have been eighteen months or so - sitting at my mother's table with my sisters, and saying "I just want to be able to use a sing-song voice with him, you know, speak softly and sweetly, not have to shout or get angry." or some such thing. And I remember they raised their brows, and said "With him?!? No, it's not possible! It doesn't work that way." or something similar.I somehow knew even then that I could parent this child differently - better- than mainstream parenting does. I felt sad and disappointed (in myself and in motherhood) when my sister's made their comment. Sad that there wasn't another way, sad that my relationship with him was going to suffer through shouting, frustration, sad that he wasn't going to have a magical childhood with an exceptional mother cheering him on.
My mother contributed to my evolution in a major way. Not how you may think, and not even by demonstrating how not to do it (we'll get to that later lol) but by gifting my newly born daughter with a book. I think it's called "My Mother gave Me the Moon". She wrote an inscription inside to Maddie, telling her lucky she was to be born into this family, how lucky she was to have me for a mother.
Now I felt like it was more of a gift to me than to my daughter. And I tell you, even though I did not feel like that mother, I sure wanted to be.
I would just quote you the book, but it needs the pictures to affect, so I will just give you an idea. It talks about how the author's mother gave her a love of living things, teaching her gentle ways, gave her the sun, stars, and the moon, how she made ordinary days extraordinary, and special days nothing short of magical.I think reading this book was the second big step in my evolution. I wanted to be that mother for my children. I want to give them the gift of a love of life and learning, to make everyday into "ordinary life magic".
The other day after Littles playgroup we had our second doctor's appointment to get a check-up on Trevy's finger. Trev knew about the appointment, and I reminded him at about 1/2 an hour before we had to leave, and then at about 5 minutes, and then a minute, and then went to collect him and he was trying to hide. It made me smile. He was peeking out of the slide enclosure, looking at me, wondering if I knew where he was. I just went over and told him it was time to go. I knew he wasn't going to want to, of course, but it got ugly.
The difference this time was that it wasn't the opinions or judgments of other mothers (not my group) that I was worried about. I wasn't concerned with them, as I had seen many a mother drag a screaming child out of the park that day. I was concerned with my relationship with my son. I really had to go (it was about 1:25, the apt was at 1:30), and I tried talking with him, and ended up grabbing his arm (that made it ugly, he was screaming "let go of me!" he detests feeling trapped.) and saying "We have to go!!!" Told everyone 'bye as I passed by with my struggling son, then I let him go and he stayed with me. I hated it. I wasn't even concerned with the scene, which I would be ordinarily, I was concerned that this was not going well. Another step in my evolution, to be sure. More concerned with my child's feelings than being judged as a mother that cannont control her child, ie labeled "a bad mother".
Two days later Trev witnessed a child (an acquaintance) being handled in the same manor, held by the arm, and he did best to liberate the child from the mother. I wasn't sure if I should laugh, or be mortified. I understood his concern, of course, but I stepped in and told him that it wasn't his place to come between a child and her mother when they were talking. Secretly, I am sort of proud of him, as he understood well that feeling, and was going to do his best to right the wrong. Maybe the next time I'll handle it differently, and just be there to protect him if the mother transfers her frustration on him. I don't know, I think I have some major evolving to do before I could let it go that far! lol. I will probably just talk with him again, and tell him he probably doesn't know the whole story, that I understand that he is trying to help his friend, but that the mommy is frustrated, and needs help from the child, and his interfering will probably make her more frustrated. That doesn't sound right, though. Why shouldn't he stick up for her? I'll have to think about it.
The thing is, there really is no reason that children should automatically respect adults when the adult does not automatically respect the child. People are people. Just because you are young doesn't mean you have not earned the right to be treated as a human being, or that your feelings, thoughts, fears, and concerns are not as valid as everyone else's. I have come across lots of people who's opinion isn't worth much to me, but it has more to do with their ignorance, lack of judgment, or inability to think for themselves that I discount, and what better way to raise a sheep then to mow down a child fourty times a day with a "because I said so" or because "that's the way life is" or because "the neighbors may talk". That doesn't teach them how to think for themselves. It teaches them that they don't matter much. That doesn't seem to me to be the best way to make the world a better place.
When I think of a child that an unthoughtful adult might deem as "good" or "well-behaved", it usually means a child that obeys everyone (all adults, and even other children), that never gives anyone any grief, never issues challenges, never makes joyful noise, doesn't show emotion other than a smile or laugh (never screams in frustration, terror or jubilation), never does anything differently than any one else would, etc. I think we all would agree that this child would be a bit terrefying. We would be terrefied for him. We would seriously have to consider that he had some serious damage to him done, and should maybe be tested for sociopathy or worse.
Yesterday at the park I was watching my son cause a bit of trouble for some people. He was (as children are want to do) climbing up the slide, a long sort of plastic tunnel one- and causing traffic jams.
A couple of mothers came over and were trying to get him or their children out, and initially I was concerned that he was showing "improper public behavior". I went over to have a chat with him about how there were lots of children who wanted to come down the slide, and it was only fair that they got a chance to do so, that little children might get hurt when they ran into him inside the tunnel. As I said on Ordinary Life Magic, he told me that he was "trying to sleep!", being a cat, and it was indeed a fine place for a catnap. He was pretty insistent, but eventually he came out, and went off somewhere else.
A few minutes later, maybe 10 or so, I saw him at the bottom again and an old man talking with him. Now this man had a child with him (his grandson, or great grandson) the boy was probably at least ten, and not a small child. Anyway, Trev didn't look too concerned, like he was threatened, so I wasn't too worried about it.
About a minute later I saw him walking toward me, bawling. I didn't know if he was hurt, or what! I asked him what happened, and he finally got out between sobs "That man pushed me off the slide!!!" and then a minute later "he called me a Bad Boy!"
I couldn't hardly believe it. I spotted the man I had seen the minute before walking away with his wife and the boy, and I asked Trev if that was him. He said it was.
I told Trev that the man did not have the right to touch him, much less push him (not sure how forceful he was, Trev doesn't like to be manhandled even a little bit) and I was so sorry that it happened. After I had dealt with his feelings (I think) I told him that the man might have been concerned with the safety of the other children, or that he might be someone who has no imagination, and believes there is only one right way to do things.
He stayed with me for a few minutes, and then I noticed that the slide had no one playing on it.
I pointed it out to Trev, and told him that now would be a good time to play on it however he wanted to, as there was no one else there. He happily ran off to do just that.
Too bad I had not thought of that solution a few minutes before. But the thought that the slide would open up soon had just not occurred to me! Now I know, and I'll know just how to handle it the next time. Just remind him that everyone has rights, and that it would be best to watch out for the smaller children, and to wait a few minutes, and play on it when it isn't so busy.
It's too bad that we cannot have a practice run at parenting. The only practice and skill building we get is when we experience it as children. Not always the greatest time to learn how to be a parent. Sometimes it works well, of course. But sometimes we get so used to the "because I said so"'s that we think that's just the way it is, and should be.
We tend to treat our children how we were treated, can't or don't evolve beyond it, or even question if we should.Not always a great circle, or conducive to a happy, healthy cycle.
Dr. Phil always says "Don't be too hard on yourself, you did the best you could with what you had." I don't really cotton to that notion. I think I have said as much before on this blog, ignorance is no excuse. If "When you know better you do better" is true, then people (I) should damn well hit the books and do some soul searching about how they are living their lives.
On the other hand, :), I can certainly understand it, as I said, you learn parenting from being a parented child. Some things we adapt, some we rebel against, some become intrinsic, and some are deep, dark, and ugly. Feelings of not measuring up... not being smart enough, kind enough, fast enough, good enough, bright enough, unworthy of being accepted or loved. Yuck. We cannot but help take that with us.
How we are treated as children determines how we see ourselves. It's not just that I want my children to experience a full of wonder, free, and magical childhood, it's that I want them to feel great and accepting about who they are.
If they know that they are better, they'll do better. They won't be able to help it.