A Facebook friend recently shared an article published in Psychology Today on raising kids. While the article was slightly dated (2004), the issues it tackled still hit home for me today in 2013, and made me re-consider my parenting techniques anew (as if I don't already do so enough). It was called ...
I was particularly struck by the following statement:
Behold the wholly sanitized childhood, without skinned knees or the occasional C in history. "Kids need to feel badly sometimes," says child psychologist David Elkind, professor at Tufts University. "We learn through experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure we learn how to cope."
And it got me to thinking about my concerns with my 7-year-old's disappointment at being one of very few kids in her school here in the ME who take the school bus every morning.
One of the biggest perks for me and for her about my resignation is definitely my ability to drive her to school every morning and pick her up every afternoon. Gone is the guilt I felt at having to cut her loose into crazy Doha traffic every morning with a stranger. Gone is her need to wake up 30 minutes earlier every morning to be on time for the bus. Gone are the petty arguments on the bus ride about whether Barbies are for babies. Gone is the 30-minute wait in the school cafeteria until the morning bell rings to signal the start of the school-day. Gone is the need for her to walk alone to her cubby.
Reading this article made me look guiltily upon many choices I'd made to help make Kiddo's life easier, but for some reason I kept on focusing on my decision to chauffeur her to and from school. "Maybe I'm turning her into a wimp?" Am I overindulging her? Should I have left her the 'bad' bus experience in an effort to help her grow as a person?
Much like the article states, Kiddo enjoys immediate gratification (unlike the children of yore, who I'm sure never stomped their feet in frustration at not getting that ice cream cone), she doesn't have a great grasp on "the big picture" (e.g. she still thinks Christmas is all about the gifts ... silly child), she still feels the need to be telling Maman and Papa about the smallest details (do we really need to know that Max made a farting noise with his armpit in class and then announced loudly that Kiddo had tooted?).
Am I raising a wimp?
Was taking her off the bus the wrong choice? Would she lose her 7:00 a.m. ability to interact with other snotty-nosed kids? Would she resent me as an adult for having interrupted her public transportation developmental phase? Would she experience anxiety later in life every time she heard school kids merrily singing the "Wheels on the bus go 'round and round'?" Should I just stick her back on the bus, tell her to move on and get over it? "Suck it up, Princess, you're seven now. Feel the pain, it'll do you good, help you cope." Is that my answer to raising a competent contributing member of society?
And at some point after reading the article, I had an epiphany. Thought to myself "Maybe, just maybe, I'M the wimp."
Just when exactly did I become solely reliant on the advice of a psychologist, a fellow mom blogger, a school counsellor, a teacher, a TV talk show host, etc. to tell me how best to raise my child? Who exactly convinced me that they, not I, hold the secret to raising a healthy, happy, functional human being? Why exactly have I lost the confidence to follow exactly what my parent gut tells me? When exactly did I start thinking that maybe my mommy answer is the wrong one?
And so I drove Kiddo to school this morning. As she sat in the back seat, she said "Maman, can I share my biggest secret with you? Do you promise not to tell anyone? Ever?"
I promised, and reassurances made, she shared.
A silly secret, not anything I'd necessarily feel the need to keep private, but for her it was monumental. And in that moment I was just her mom, just driving her to school, and I was a safe place, and she didn't need to fear failure or figure out how to cope.
The day will likely come in the not so distant future where Kiddo will have to get back on that school bus. Where she will have to experience disappointment, deal with her early morning grumpiness, and cope with the naughty kids on the bus.
But today, she shared her biggest secret with me. And right now, right here, I know that I don't need anyone else to tell me whether or not I should be driving Kiddo to school.
Tell me a secret I don't know ...