Friday, April 29, 2011

On Parenting, and Holy Crap: Three!

Note the Unicorn...
My daughter is three (and one month), and (again with the trite to say so on the Interwebz) she is changing a little (or a lot) every. single. day.  These changes are mostly amazing.  Okay, there's some florid upset and hiding under the table moments (her, not me - though it's a close thing, some days), but mostly I am finding it easier, not harder, to deal with being a parent.  The more she's like a talking, feeling, active, amazing person, the easier it is to remember that when parenting her.

Most parenting fail I see comes from a place of not treating kids like they are human beings.  Or so runs my theory.  Bizarre expectations (like staying quiet and happy while trapped in a trolley at the shops; staying quiet and happy while doing anything that adults like and that the kid finds excrutiatingly dull and uninteresting; staying goddam quiet and happy all the time) and some parental reactions to these bizarre expectations (yelling, belittling, yelling, hitting, shaming, yelling) seem to come from a place where the adult has simply forgotten (or doesn't care) that this is a human being, with their own unique needs, feelings, preferences, and abilities.

It's weird, what some of us (and society) expect of children, and how little we (and society) generally respect them.  We expect them to acheive things that we can't do ourselves: goddam quiet and happy being an example.  I'm not quiet and happy all the friggin time.  Far from it, if I'm honest.  There are things I hate doing, things that shit me to tears, things that scare me.  But if children act this way, we act as if they are broken somehow for not being goddam happy.  And quiet, don't forget quiet.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a perfect person, or a perfect parent. I'm impatient, demanding, emotional, and suffer from a lack of logic just as much as the next awesome blogger.  And, funnily enough, so is my child.  Which is kinda my point.  When I am not treated like a full human being is when I struggle the most with feelings of rage and hurt and frustration. I figure it's the same for kids. 

So, the older Lolly gets, the more I can see her, her as a small person, with her own stuff, her own feelings and likes and dislikes, her own needs.  Babies are a bundle of immediate needs, and as we tether ourselves to them to care for them, it can be easy to forget that they are small people, and not somehow extensions of the parts of ourselves that are caring for all those needs.  Toddlers are similar, more unformed, more immediate, more on the borderline of danger and safety.  Wrangling them can become more about some future end result than about them as a person.  Children are transitioning, seeing them a whole people gets easier and easier.  The younger they are the more reminding we need.

This stuff is hard.  Humans are selfish (though not completely, we also rock sometimes) and living in subservience to the personhood of another human being is just plain difficult.   This is why parenting disabled kids is so grinding on the soul: at least with regular kids there is an end of immediate responsibility in sight.  Your charge will grow up and out into themselves and into the world.  For a disabled child, that pathway is crooked and sometimes not there at all.

It's always "all about me," inside our heads, if we're honest.  Raising children becomes an exercise in balancing my Self with the needs of another whole person/s.  Balancing act extraordinairre.  When I'm out of balance, I'm worse at my job. 

So, do I come to a point?  Perhaps it's being three.  Three is an age where Lolly-as-person is more visible and vocal.  She can [occasionally] be reasoned with.  We can negotiate.  She understands time and "later" is becoming more real to her.  She is increasingly happy with her own or others' company, lessening the demands on just me.  I'm finding it easier to deal with the everyday difficulties of parenting, I can talk to her, reason with her, offer substitutes, explain, talk about emotions (hers and mine) and meanings.

So sure, it's demanding, her intellect needs it's own chaperone, and the goddam
horse stories are never ending, but it's also easier for my brain to send that reminder to my mouth: here's a person.  Respect that.

Watch out, your personhood is showing!


Anna said...

I agree with everything you have written. Great post!!

Marianna said...