Friday, October 14, 2011

Mama Bear


Last night I took Britt to a "Children Reading to Dogs" event at our local library. We got there a little early to pick out new books to bring home and then sat at a table where she worked on a craft while waiting for things to start. Another woman and her daughter, maybe 10 or so, sat at the table with us, the daughter's nose buried in a book.

It was all going so well until, eying our stack of easy readers, the other woman asked Britt how old she was. "Seven," she answered, and I instantly felt the waves of smug disapproval rolling off Mrs. Judgy McJudgerson over there. "Well, she just turned seven. She's only in first grade." I spoke nicely but inside -- oh, man, I was seething. She had just poked a stick at the Mama Bear in me. How dare she judge my cub? She has no idea what an amazing kid Britt is. Sure, maybe I could have worked with her and had her reading sooner, but her teacher says she's right on track and doing well, so where's the problem?

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Once you become a mom, you do run up against these women occasionally -- the super-anal, uptight uber-moms with very rigid ideas about the right way to raise children. You and your kid(s) will inevitably fail to measure up. And I'm sure this particular woman homeschools her kid and that she was reading by age 3 and a McDonald's french fry has never passed her lips and they don't even own a TV set. Fine for them, but that's not us. Their ways are different, not necessarily better or worse. Just different.

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Britt does not lack supervision or intellectual stimulation. I have always read to her. She has an insatiable curiosity and I try to answer all her questions and, if I don't know, then we look it up together. We go to museums and find other educational activities around town. We provide her with all the tools and resources and encouragement she needs to explore her interests. No, she isn't taking soccer and piano lessons and ballet and gymnastics, but I don't want her to be an over-scheduled neurotic mess. (I had planned to sign her up for soccer this term but it didn't feel like the right time and, as it turned out, it wasn't. I could not have coped with a soccer schedule dictating when I could make the two-hour trip to visit my dying mother.)

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I've already raised two kids (as a single mom) who turned out to be independent, self-supporting adults. No prison records, no drug problems, no welfare checks. They are bright, delightful people following their own paths and I'm very proud of them. And I have faith in Britt's intelligence and creativity and initiative and have no doubt that she will turn out just as well. I won't raise her to be an over-achiever, because she doesn't need a Harvard MBA to be happy. If she lives a normal lifespan, God willing, she will have many, many years to be an adult, but childhood is so fleeting and I'm content to let her be a happy-go-lucky kid as long as she can. Maybe I baby her too much but -- so what?

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Anyway, one of the library ladies came over and asked Judgy's daughter if she wanted to do the craft, which consisted of coloring a birthday cake and decorating a party hat because they were celebrating the 16th birthday of one of the dogs. The girl answered, "No thank you. We don't observe birthdays in our home." WHAT?! Now it was my turn to be Mrs. Judgy McJudgerson. What the hell, woman? You can't spare one day a year to celebrate the life of your child? No parties? No presents? No cake? WHAT KIND OF TWISTED CRAP IS THAT?

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This morning I took Britt to the pediatrician for her 7-year checkup, which went pretty well -- except that she failed her vision test and failed to provide a urine sample even though I spent 15 minutes crouching next to her with my arm in the toilet holding the cup and she wouldn't get on the examining table so her exam took place on the bench and it took three of us to hold her down while she SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER as she got her flu shot. Before we left, the doctor put her hand on my shoulder and whispered to me, "You baby her too much, Grandma. Stop it!"

(***sigh***)

2 comments:

troubledcaregiver said...

I read Mom boards just to get a laugh out of these types of arguments. It seems like every Mom on there is raising their kid the only 'right' way.

Being without kids myself, I'm not actually "allowed" to have an opinion about how kids are raised. But you know me, of course I do, lol! You know some of my opinions, some I'm smart enough to keep to myself.

What I will say is that yes, perhaps you have babied her a bit, BUT Britt is a remarkably well behaved, very intelligent (kid still knits better than I do!) child who is curious, interested in new things, is an avid reader, and all around great kid.

So ignore the haters, I figure that they're just jealous about something.

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