Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone
Most parents fall into one of 2 categories.
One whose child can do no wrong; The other whose child can do no right (mainly parents of teens). Between these two extremes is category 3, comprising the tiny minority of those who manage to be fair.
I fall into category 1…most of the time.
If I could, I would draw a halo around O’s head and sprinkle it with pink glitter.
I overcompensate probably, because my parents were primarily category 2 and when they were in an indulgent mood, switched to category 3.
I now realise how prejudiced and unreasonable a parent can be.
Every time O comes to me with a complaint, every time she is down or sad, I am ready to gather arms and wage war. So much so, there are times when she begins her school stories with: “I’ll tell you something, but don’t come to school…”
Like a few days ago when she came home in tears, because a 9-year-old boy called her a “bloody f**K” because his sister and O had an exchange on the school bus, while returning home.
I was livid. How the hell can a child show so much aggression. I am sure he had no clue what it meant, but it was bully-attitude all the same. (Since I was too wound up, it was R who had a word with the boy the next day. He asked me not to talk to O at all, if he can’t be polite and that the next time around he would march him up to the headmaster. )
The thing is, when she tells me her sad stuff — teary-eyed, trembling lips and shaking voice — it’s like someone is twisting my gut into a knot. Reasoning takes a hike, objectivity is washed away by her readily flowing tears. That’s not the worst of it — it’s when she is trying to be brave, non-teary and matter-of-fact, that I really want to sob.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like she is a spoilt brat because I am blind to her faults. Not at all. I am aware of how she can wrap me around her little finger and play me…
O is a bit of drama queen, but she is also very well-behaved — most people who know her will attest that. She is not the kind who throws tantrums, screams or yells, or speaks disrespectfully to elders. She knows the magic words and uses them — Sorry, Please, Thank You. And on the rare occasions that she doesn’t fall in line, she gets a earful. If anything, R & I are quite strict with her — because all around we see children out of control.
But O is not above teasing and ganging up or throwing a bad word in either… It’s not that I do not have a measure of my daughter. I do. However, when she is at the receiving end, or when the parents turn a blind eye, I am ready to scream.
Till some 3-4 years ago, we were category 3 parents. Then after a play date, O (aged 4+) asked me why I was nicer to other children, and that how come other parents never disciplined their kids. The conversation we started that day, is still on… Variations of that question are thrown at me everyday.
Some are easy to answer.
“Why can she watch Hannah Montana and why can’t I?”
“Because each parent decides what’s best for their child.”
However, some questions stump me.
“How come she is never scolded when she is being mean or rude to me, but I am always asked to behave well?”
The second part of the question I can answer; but I have nothing to say about the first.
Since I am rather needy and seeking reaffirmation as a parent, I like being category 1. Makes life good with O — most of the time.
But as she grows older, I’ll have to be careful about moving from 1 to 3, and not run headlong into 2.
ETA: Realised I was being unfair to my folks. They were just really worried with 4 daughters, I guess. They wanted us to be independent and well-placed. And also wanted to please the extended family and friends’ circle, so never took our side in a conflict. However, now, they are category 1 parents and grandparents. They are more relaxed 🙂