For goodness sake, be a child properly

Okay, so now I am going to have a wee rant about one of those topics that, well, makes me rant. One has a baby. One has it drummed in that breast milk is the best thing you can do for said baby, and one goes through untold nipple horror (grazed nipples ring a bell, folks?) in order to do just that. Good. The weekly email updates pour in letting you know where your infant “should” be, developmentally. Your Maternal & Child Health Nurse does same. As do your Mum, In-Laws, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, the Checkout Chick at Woolies, the other Check Out Chick at Coles, Buba Desi (local colourful identity rumoured to be a Wizard, if you don’t mind umpire), friends, husbands, Other People’s Kids…you get the idea.

We want our babies to hit the milestones early, on time really isn’t ideal these days. My younger sister is known throughout the lands for crawling at 4 1/2 months and walking at 9 months. What a super freak. She’s normal now, thank Christ.  This is the kind of factoid that we hold on to and hope that our offspring “achieve”, but don’t you think that maybe we have it arse about? We push and cajole, but to what end? Sure, we can get online and order a system that will have a little ones reading before they can actually speak. Hell, not doing so is tantamount to child abuse, isn’t it? I have heard smacking, giving cows milk and dressing a male in watermelon pink all called child abuse, so I am now unsure what that actually means. In my day, it was when an adult beat the shite out of a child, but clearly I be out of touch on that one.

So you do all of the “right” stuff, your child is reading at year 12 level by the time it is 4, has confidence due to its enrolment for several extra curricular classes (swimming, dance, karate, boxing, German, French & Mandarin) and has a best & fairest medal from Auskick, even though you are not supposed to enrol a child until the year it turns 4, and has never watched television or played a console game. Brilliant. Wonderful. Then what? We then spend the child’s teenage and early adulthood taking them to a shrink 3 times a week, so that they can connect with their inner child?

Can’t we please leave our kids the hell alone, to a degree? I mean sure, by all means feed them, bathe them, read them books. And expect more from them, especially as they get older. But do not ask them to share when they are 2. Do not expect a 4 year old to be mindful that other children may have hurt feelings if they don’t get a gift in pass the parcel. Let them go outside and run. Remember running? It feels ace. And I mean the “just because” running rather than the “I had a baby and now I need to get back to my best form within 2 and a half weeks” running. Take the training wheels off their bike when THEY are ready, not when a kid a year younger has so it means your child is an idiot. It doesn’t, it never has, it’s not important.

I have noticed, being that I have a child in preschool and a child in primary school, that there is a fair bit of worry about holding back/pressing forward when advancement through the education system is broached. I had our eldest at 3 year old kinder when he was two, at a Montessori school, for reasons I now see were nothing shy of crazy. He was there for seven hours, one day a week until he turned 3, and two seven hour days after that. He was two years old, people. TWO. And yes, I was shocked when the entire thing went pear shaped. Yup. I pulled the poor lamb out after three terms and found a local preschool that did a more traditional program, for one day a week, three hours. He thrived. I thrived. We both made friends. No harm no foul, but for that nagging feeling that I put him in a position that left him feeling alone and lost in a strange world where nobody knew or loved him. No doubt that will come up during the therapy in years to come…

I don’t understand why we insist on letting our obsession with competing and achieving the best outcome to take away what ought to be, in short, childhood.

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