Did the title get your attention? Good. If you agree with it, then this blog is written with you in mind. Please, keep reading, before skipping to the comments section.
It happened again. I got sucked into another dreadful parenting debate. I always tell myself that I won't, and usually I don't, but sometimes I do. I just have to respond to people. I have to let them know just how narrow minded they are being, and in the end I doubt it matters to them one iota.
These people know just how every child should behave, and how every parent should respond when they don't.
These commentators know that every misdeed of the kid (no matter how old) is the parent's fault.
They know, because their child would never...
They know because back in their day......
How do I know these parent's POV so well? I have a confession to make here.
I know, because I used to be one of them.
As a young mom I brought my daughter home. I struggled a bit, but mostly she didn't need much. I directed her, and intuitively guided her as I did with my boys. Life was good, and my parenting felt strong. I felt in control. I scoffed as other people's children whined, and threw fits in public places. "Teach your kids some manners!" I would think. I'd roll my eyes, and sometimes even be arrogant and think the parents could not control their kids. Why, how hard could it be? Look at my little angel sitting here. Not even thinking of causing an issue. To this day my daughter has not ever thrown a fit for candy, or a toy at the store, and since she is 15 I doubt she ever will. See, I am awesome, right?
I collected compliments like they were scouting badges. What a fine job I was doing. Every person enjoyed my little CJ's company. Everywhere she went, she was praised for her good behavior.
Then, when she was just 3 1/2 my world changed when I had Bubby. He never stopped crying. No one could hold him, as he was stiff as a board. He was not the quiet, emotive, charismatic child CJ was. No one would watch him. Even as a baby, I would get 'the call' no more than 2 hrs after leaving him anywhere. ''The call' was the one where the babysitter called to ask why he was crying. Did he have a tummy ache? Then they'd call again. "I think he's teething" they'd say. "I gave him Orajel. He's still crying" They swaddled, and wrapped, and fed him. He still cried. They were not me, and they could not calm his baby nerves. No one could, even me much of the time. I'd inevitably get the call to come get him. They'd had about as much of him as they could handle.
I thought this would change as he grew older. It didn't. He cried more at 12 months old, then as 2 months. For sure, I could not blame it on colic anymore. Holidays were less than pleasant, as we navigated family homes. The ones that excitedly welcomed CJ, said in so many words that Bubby was too much.
When he became mobile he was like the Tasmanian devil, leaving only havoc, and chaos in his wake. He emptied shelves, and drawers as a matter of play. He screamed, and squealed at the slightest thing that intruded his space, and invaded his will.
By the time he was 2 my husband and I were almost hermits. No one wanted to deal with Bubby, and we couldn't take him anywhere for very long, or he erupted into screams that could shatter glass. I remember once remarking that it was like the world was assaulting his senses. he was so sensitive.
At the store he climbed out of the cart, standing, and falling in a matter of seconds, which would prompt store employees to tell me to have my son sit down. I was mortified. When did I become that mom that had this unruly child? The child that I swore I'd never have? I was paying attention. He was just so quick that I could not keep him still. He was like a ball of vibrating energy.
Then, when Bubby was 2 came Beans. Beans was a quiet, passive baby. He didn't cry much. Matter of fact, I often had to wake HIM to be fed, because he was just not doing it on his own. He didn't cry, he didn't move. He didn't seem to have much of a response to anything, ever.
Because I had my hands so full with Bubby, I thought not a lot of it.
So, I pressed on. My mothering confidence shaken. My CJ was doing well, until Kindergarten. Then, she wasn't able to read, and write like the other kids. Her behavior was still excellent, and Bubby's was still much to be desired. Beans wasn't hitting any milestones, and I was grieving the loss of my 4th child.
Tests and more tests later turned out the boys had autism, and CJ had dyslexia. I had not been searching, but the diagnosis found me via a very kind, gentle Parents as Teachers mentor. Her kind words about my parenting, and dedication, and her very, very gentle nudge to find out why my boys weren't developing like their peers made so much difference. I just thought my kids were all unique, and they are! Turns out differently wired brains are responsible for that.
Yes, I once was that mother that thought she knew how everyone else should do it. I was that 20 something young woman who thought she knew it all, only come to find out I don't know much at all, but I'm learning.
I urge you to learn too, if you're one of those people who wonder why people at the store, restaurant, or park have such unruly kids.
Consider perhaps that you don't know their situation. Maybe, the parent's are having a bad day. Maybe, the child has difficulties you can't see. Who knows, but having compassion, without the judgment can make all the difference in our society. We all want a better world for our kids. Respect for others starts by showing kindness, even in situations you might not understand, or agree with the other person about. You can always control what your reaction to them is going to be, and that is where our kids learn to behave, from us. Be the person you want them to grow up to be.