This post has proved to be a little more tricky to write than I was expecting, mostly due to my conflicting feelings about the matter, which I am still struggling with to some degree.
It was Little Man’s first parents’ evening on Tuesday and, due to an existing and unmoveable commitment on the same night, we were unable to attend. I was really disappointed to miss out on this and obviously keen to find out how he’s been getting on at preschool so I emailed to ask if we could arrange to come in and speak to them at another time. They duly rang my husband to make an appointment, which was great, but at the same time mentioned that the preschool manager wanted to be in on the meeting too as ‘there have been some issues regarding LM’s behaviour that we want to discuss’. GULP.
Up until now, I haven’t really said too much on Twitter/Facebook or even to other friends about what the precise issues are as I was ashamed. Yes, ashamed. It feels so terrible to say that about my own son, but it’s true. I was ashamed of his behaviour and, as a firm believer in nurture over nature, I was also ashamed of myself. I felt like an abject failure.
You see, Little Man has been being rough with the other children there, including hitting them. I am mortified. Where have I gone so horribly wrong as to result in him not knowing that that kind of behaviour is not acceptable?
I have been beating myself up about this for the past week, worrying about how we can tackle this, worrying about whether I’m at danger of raising a future bully and, truth be told, worrying about the judgements that were doubtless being made on me and my parenting skills by not only the preschool staff but also the other parents.
Now you’re probably thinking, ‘how shallow’, and you would be right. Unfortunately though, I am the kind of person who does care about how they’re perceived by others. I know I really shouldn’t, and that’s what I’m struggling with now.
The worst aspect of motherhood so far, for me anyway, has been the judgement. Mothers judge other mothers far too freely. It starts straight away with the notorious breastfeeding vs formula feeding issue, which I am absolutely not going to get into now. It continues with any number of other matters, (dummies, controlled crying, baby-led weaning etc) all of which there are strong, conflicting opinions on. I have no problem with anybody holding a differing opinion to me on any matter, life would be incredibly boring if we all agreed. What I DO have a problem with however is when someone, who invariably doesn’t even know me, decides that they can make a judgment on what kind of parent I am purely based on a momentary observation or enquiry into one of my choices.
I’ll hold my hands up here, I’ve done it in the past. Haven’t we all? I’ve seen the children creating mayhem in the shops or throwing a tantrum in the middle of a restaurant and thought, ‘Well, they clearly can’t control their children!’ but I really should have known better. What we see, and what we think we know about someone is usually merely only the tip of the iceberg. There could be all kinds of reasons for what we’re seeing or why somebody has chosen that particular option in raising their children. And that’s just it, it is a choice. Unless it’s illegal or endangering their children or others; their children, their choice. Also, as I have come to realise, there is always more to something than meets the eye. Those children misbehaving in the restaurant? Maybe they’re just having a bad day and are usually really good. Maybe some well-meaning grandparent overloaded them with sugar just before they came out. The fact is, we don’t know and we shouldn’t judge.
But people WILL judge, I know this. So, as hard as it for me to do this, I am being brave and saying this:
Go ahead, judge me.
Decide that I am a shoddy parent because my son is having some behavioural issues at present.
Blank me when you pass me outside preschool.
Don’t invite my son to your child’s birthday party.
I DON’T CARE.
You will never know how upset I was at hearing about the times he’d been in trouble and you will never know how I’ve stayed awake at night agonising over how best to tackle it and put it right.
My priority now, and all I currently care about, is my son and ensuring that we do all we can to help him over this and to ensure that he gets the support, insight and understanding to deal with whatever frustrations and issues are causing him to behave like this.
I’m going to finish now as this is making me start crying all over again but my last comment is this:
If you are so quick to judge and exclude a 3 year old boy and his parents then are you really any better than a playground bully? I genuinely hope that your children never do anything you might consider to be less than desirable so that you won’t have to experience the same feelings I have.
Thank you for reading,