Musings and thoughts on life, parenting, depression, music, food, books, and ferrets. May contain Balls. Tell me how I've damaged you @jessikart on twitter
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Your child is your child.
couple of days ago, I was on twitter and the 'Who to follow'
suggestions gave me a name I hadn't seen in an awfully long time.
Goodness me! It's a a boyfriend I had for about six months as a
teenager. How strange! We haven't seen each other for at least
fifteen years. I wonder what he's up to now? I had a quick look at
his bio. Ahh, sweet. He's got two kids, both quite young. And a blog.
Let's have a look at that, shall we? (Oh shut up, like you've never stalked looked up people online from your old life).
Um. His 'blog' (sorry, not meaning to sound bitchy, but...) was about
six posts long, written over a year ago in the space of about three
weeks. And they were all – and I do mean all – about his then
toddler son in some way. From the high chairs they used, to the
experience of weaning (not very informative, fairly dull), the best
kind of toddler cup, the chugger who came to their door and woke the
baby.... It was very much baby bore territory. I didn't think badly
of him for this. If you've got kids, every thing they do is
fascinating, you feel the need to tell the world, you can't conceive
that anyone could be anything other than entranced by your perfect
little person, you want to shout from the rooftops about how amazing
they are (aside from the times they get you up during the night, puke
on you, take off their nappy and poo all over the carpet, pull all
the books out of the bookshelves... although love carries you through
that). But one sentence, in his introductory blogpost, made me pull a
bit of a lemonface.
is all about being a Dad. What else do I have to share? My life is
centred around my son who is the most amazing little boy and my best
Um. Ok. You are a 33 year old teacher with a wife and child. That's
nice. But your 18 month old son is not, nor will he ever be, your
best friend. He's 18 months old for a start. If he could express a
preference, his best friend would probably be Bonjela. Or that wooden
train. Perhaps a spoon. Your open love for your son is admirable. But
you are confusing your love for him with an equal relationship. A
parent/child relationship is never an equal one, nor should it be.
For the very simple reason that you are the parent. You are not here
to be his friend. He may be the centre of your world. He may have
taught you more about love than you thought possible. But he is not
your best friend. (And to be frank, I am very much judging you for
feeling this way).
then, you can go the other way...
Now and again, people I'm friends
with on facebook post a picture of some text. The wording varies
occasionally, but it's usually something along the following lines:
promise to my children. I am not your friend. I am your mom. I will
stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your
worst nightmare & hunt you down like a bloodhound when needed
because I LOVE YOU! When you understand that, I will know you are a
responsible adult. You will NEVER find someone who loves, prays,
cares and worries about you more than I do! Re-post if you are a
parent and agree.
Aside from making me dryheave a
little that this person feels the need to validate their parenting by
'Liking and Sharing' such a load of twaddle (and also the
self-congratulatory 'Ooh, get me, I'm such a great parent' tone), I
also know, from what else of their lives on facebook that I see, that
they are also the type of person to post status updates along the
omg cant believe sum ppl who try
to bash me and my hubby for what we do for our kids we love our kids
what is wrong with that next time you want to slag my kids off do it
to my face and not behind my back!!!!
Followed by the inevitable
response from a friend
U ok hun x
Yeah just can't understand why
some ppl have to be so cruel to my kids lol
In other words, I will happily
say that I am tough on my kids, but if anyone else, ever, dares to
suggest my children are not 100% perfect, I will get needlessly
defensive, refuse to accept there may be any truth in what they are
saying and then post a cryptic passive aggressive status update on
I can sort of see where they're
coming from. Your children are just that. Your children. Your role in
their life is to guide, support and, at times, discipline them. But
the whole stalking, worst nightmare, hunt them down thing? No. Refuse to accept that they are not always 100% perfect, defend them to the death even when they're in the wrong? No. You
have to allow your children space to make their own decisions, to
allow them to make the wrong decisions at times, and be prepared to deal with the fallout. You can advise,
certainly. But it is their life, and they have to find their own path
through it. If you don't make mistakes, you're not going to learn.
And I don't want to raise my children to be blindly unthinkingly
following me and my teachings (not least because I am frequently
contradictory, hypocritical and irrational). I want them to question
me when I seem unreasonable. I want them to stretch the elastic of
our relationship until it twangs. Because then, when they're older,
they will a) be able to think for themselves and b) if they have
children of their own, understand how strong my love for them is that
I trust them, and have faith in them that, regardless of the mistakes
they make along the way, they will, eventually, do the right thing.
If I sound a bit judgemental, I
don't mean to be. I'm not any kind of parenting expert, as anyone who
knows me or the Blondies will attest. I'm making it up as I go along
(aren't we all?) and I've made plenty of mistakes along the way, some
relatively minor, some fairly catastrophic. The best lessons in
parenting usually come about from learning what not to do, rather
than sticking unthinkingly to your plan of what a parent should be. I
wrote before about The 8yo and I. We're close. I see so much of
myself in him, it would be stupid for me not to recognise that. But
although I can read his mind, make him giggle like no one else on
earth, and he does the same for me, he's not my best friend, nor is
he the subject of my stalking, nor will I blindly defend him when he messes up. He's my son. I'm his mother. That's
our relationship. And I wouldn't have it any other way.