My plan for my kids was that, number one, they would be fantastic people. I of course would be an amazing mum, who would humbly refuse to take credit for their fantasticness, but I’d be quietly yet smugly thinking how freakin awesome a mum I am. I’ll admit that it was gratifying to hear people, day care teachers, extended family, random strangers, tell me again and again how lovely polite gentle smart creative well behaved my first and oldest is/was. I’ll admit that I thought he was better than most kids I knew. Yes, better, I said. I’ll admit that I, at times, basked in the warm pool of smug self congratulation.
So imagine my shock when I found out one of my twins is in fact a scamp. He is the sand throwing, toy chucking, face slapping, ear drum popping, troublesome one at day care. He is the one around whom the day’s activities are often planned, so that we can manage him. Well, when I say found out, it’s not like I didn’t know. I just didn’t know he was as bad at day care as he is at home. I want to fall into a sink hole, but I paste my smile on. The young day care teacher is nervous. Nervous! Her usual, more experienced partner is absent for the day and management of my boy will fall to her on this day. I want to rewind to the part where I was a great parent. My stomach simmers with a fear that this is all my fault.
I’m terrified that this is not normal behaviour. Somewhere in my head there is a voice saying hey, he’s not yet 3, he will grow out of it. But what if he doesn’t? What if I have in fact, wrecked him? What if all my great strategies actually don’t work? What then? I want him and love him just as he is (and he is fantastic), but I want others to approve of him also. I was devastated recently when someone referred to him as a nightmare. My boy? My little boy?
My children have stripped me bare. I don’t know how to measure success of anything anymore. I don’t know anything about anything. Least of all parenting. Great parenting can’t be as shallow as simply having a well behaved nice kid. Can it? It can’t be intellect, emotional maturity, happiness. Can it? Surely I can hope for more than just raising a kid who can behave? It’s an ugly mess this job. It reduces me to a fool, a bumbling side act in a bad slapstick routine. It takes away any measure of self efficacy I may have, takes my confidence, drags me kicking and screaming out of that nice warm pool.