Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Number Thirty Seven: The Parenting

Cowboy hats- a cancer perk courtesy of my hospital stay!
I’ve wondered on and on about how the Beast breast has affected my boys but Monday night’s Cherry Healey’s Parenting Dilemmas made me feel much better! The way I parent has always worried me… I’ve mentioned before that I did not take to motherhood like a duck to water and was surprised to find what a pressure I found being the perfect mother. Ha no such thing! My fear of ‘What will other mothers think of me?’  didn’t begin on day one… I was good at the early baby bit- feeding and sleeping, it was the ‘How do I deal with THIS behaviour?’ that had me stumped. This occurred on the very day that my first born turned two… that night he learned how to climb out of his cot! This meant moving on to a bed much earlier than we’d hoped due to my fear of broken limbs/skull. It also led to his nocturnal head banging not only disturbing us but also our neighbours as cot bars were replaced with their adjoining wall! This is just a teeny tiny example of the trials I certainly had not contemplated when planning to have a baby. My baby was no more- in his place was a terrible two! (The REAL low point was being asked to leave Baby Gym! I was so mortified that I could not hold back the tears in front of perfect strangers and my boy was utterly distressed- ‘I want to say sorry, I want to go back to Gymlastics’, he sobbed all the way home. Who knows if this was a terrible bit of instruction on the part of the gym teacher or did in actual fact teach him a valuable lesson- probably both! Either way the gym lost a potential future gym star that day- a child who has NO fear, the HIGHEST pain threshold known to man AND boundless energy- sounds like vital gymnastic attributes to me- the discipline could be learned later but we won’t be returning there!)  
My mum recently went on a course- the lady leading the course wasn’t from the UK and Terrible Twos was a new concept to her- she made the point that it is the expectations we place on our two year olds that lead us to believe they are terrible- in her country they treat two year olds as slightly older babies and so are not disappointed… are less anxious and less judgemental. This sounds like bliss compared to my experience. Find me several hundreds of miles away convincing myself that all the other mothers had nothing better to do than scrutinise my parenting skills. I look back now and realise that all the pressure was coming from within- hindsight is a fabulous thing! Also it’s easy to see looking back that all these short phases pass- at the time I had myself convinced that I was stuck with a tantruming beast forever. His will power determination and confidence have remained but he is much calmer. (On the whole) It is more easy to reason with him now anyway. For ‘Reason with,’ read. ‘Bribe!’
I watched Cherry Healy’s documentary on parenting this morning- I’m compelled as much by her honesty as I am by her hair! For those of you who missed it (catch it on iPlayer) she examined different parenting styles and reflected upon what she hoped for her own daughter. I guess what made for good telly though was to again visit extreme examples- strict meaning smacking three times a week and putting your child in the garden in the dark at night if they didn’t go to sleep! I think a more balanced approach would have strict equalling- I always carry out what I say- consistency is the key. Have high expectations and have fun- give your child a reason to want to spend time with you,enjoy your company, love you and respect you. The worst example though in my opinion was the home schooling mother- I know I’m a teacher and so obviously have an interest in schools but watching this reignited my passionate loathing for home schooling. I just can not see it as anything but a reflection of utter selfish parenting. It says so much more about the needs of the parent than those of the child- mothers and fathers who simply ignore their responsibility to bring their child up as sociable, independent young people. Young people who are well equipped with dealing with a variety of social situations and peers- many of which will have been awkward or even painful experiences but vital in the journey toward becoming independent and well rounded. The only needs catered for effectively was those of the parents- a need to keep them close and controlled. I saw nothing positive in the home schooling approach that I did not feel could be achieved out of school hours but I did see appalling examples of so called teaching! I believe that well balanced happy children should go skipping into school at quarter to nine and skipping home again at three O’clock.
It probably wouldn’t make good telly but I’d love to see ‘The Balanced Parenting’ approach- not extreme in any way, honest about the trials and tribulations that are part of parenting- Cherry herself was the closest we got to this example so I hope she continues to share her journey with us.
Anyway… I digress- rant over!
One thing that is extremely clear to me about parenting second time around is how much more simple and straight forward everything is. (Once you get over the ‘double trouble’ element of juggling two children of differing ages and stages and therefore needs.) You not only have all the baby paraphernalia you more importantly have been there and done that once before! I don’t believe it is possible to parent your second child in the same way you parented first time around- just can’t be done! You know too much! Looking back I feel silly for spending the nine months of my pregnancy reading up on pregnancy and birth- how had it not occurred to me that this was a tiny slither of what I was actually getting myself into? Silly girl!
I’ve said before that one of the positive affects of the Beast Breast is that I’m happier being myself- I’m here to enjoy the life I’ve been given and will no longer be wasting time and energy worrying quite so much about what others are thinking of me. I truly believe this will be the single most beneficial thing that could have happened for my parenting abilities and therefore for my wonderful boys. And if I needed any proof of this I just need to remember Saturday’s BBQ where my three year old played beautifully with his friends and sorted out minor squabbles without the need of adult intervention and my one year old played and giggled his way to nine pm making the adults beam! Proud, confident, well balanced parenting is the way forward and has been all the more achievable thanks to the wake up call that is cancer.

I feel the need for a P.S…
Please don’t think I’m bragging about my children- I still find being a mummy exhausting and challenging, I have just realised that I needed to worry less and enjoy more.
P.P.S… I also must acknowledge that there are probably some cases when home schooling IS most appropriate and there and probably examples of it being done very well- just not this time.

P.P.P.S… Don’t even get me start on Kumon maths lessons!

1 comment:

  1. Being a parent is one of the most difficult challenges you can take on. There are no blue prints really. My son is 35 & I still feel I'm getting it wrong even though he doesn't live near. I am VERY proud of him though & love to say so!