It takes almost seven years with all the ups and downs until I realized something about raising a child : It’s absolutely not about us, the parents.
The more time I spend with this little girl and saw several total differences between us, I reminded myself often, she’s not me. She loves something that I am 100% not into like make up, art and white milk. She is pretty good at something that I wasn’t at her age like playing piano and math.
The return to the bulk of readings after years of absence, moving to London, and become almost a total stay at home mother, all since last year, change so many point of views.
I thought knowing lots of things about children, in theory and some practices, were enough to make everything run smoothly.
In reality, how little did I know and how much that I still have to learn. The more I read, the smaller I feel. Even in certain parts, I felt like being cornered and pushed to throw my previous view and replaced it with something which I have zero knowledge about it.
I felt like halfly dragged out of my ‘bubble’ and shown a complete different sea about children and their development.
One of the best things London brings is the chance to see and live with so many different people, yet, it feels like we are all the same. Unlike me, who had grown up in almost similar environment from elementary to high school, even college, I loved how diverse the little girl’s school there.
She played with so many different kids from different cultures. The British, African, Chinese, Spanish, French, Finnish, Arabic, Italian, and so were the teachers. She was the only Indonesian there. Nobody really cared about where one came from. They just played together.
In her school also, I was able to witness how disabilities, whether it is visible or invisible got equal treatment. No one really cared if you have disability or not, in a good way. I remembered a girl in a wheel chair at her school. The most noticeable thing that I remembered from her was nothing about her disability, but…
She looked so bright and nice. The way she talked to others, it was so pleasant to see. The other important thing to notice was how the school community treated her. I didn’t witness any pity looks either from her friends or the teachers.
Once, I saw her when she wanted to pass through the door and a teacher and a student were there. What did they do? They hold the door until she went through, but nothing about ‘helping’ her so she could do it faster.
I really thought that was just the right amount of help. They knew she could do it by herself, so they didnt came to her to push the wheel chair, instead they chose to hold the door.
She wasn’t the only one. I saw several others kids with visible disabilities and saw similar vibe from them. For someone with learning difficulties like her, the amount of help received was beyond our expectation.
That was one eye opening experience for me, until we (I) decided that she might need a different school than what I had already had in my mind before. About the school, maybe a separate post would be good.
I looked back often in raising her. Previously, it was because I wanted to do as what my mom did, but then, I realized, not all of it was applicable. The more I realized I wasn’t my mom and my little girl wasn’t me, the more I feel better in raising her differently.
I followed the basics which I considered universal and important like sleeping and eating, but became quite relaxed in other things.
I did totally different thing in things that I considered important but not really happened in the time I grew up, like apologizing. Showing that we, the parents, can make mistake and we will apologize if we do that.
Days are not always rainbow, but when we are angry to her, we try our best to avoid silence treatment. We talked about it right away and explained why.
I didn’t say that my parents were doing things wrong. Just like me, I think, we just did what we thought the best within our power and knowledge, at that time.
This is why I said in one of my previous posts, it’s the parents who have lots of homeworks to do, not the kids.
It’s not an easy job to change the mindset. To become more mindful about how everything we do, even the simplest one, will have certain impact to the child, bad or good.
Currently reading a book called ‘Special’ where some pages pinched me a little but quite hurt inside, like this :
Every birthday, I always write two wishes, for her to be always healthy and happy. But, yes, I write that with certain scenario inside my head. How kind of healthy and happy I imagune for her, based on my experience and thinking. Years before motherhood, I really thought parenting is about repeating the cycle. Your child will just have to follow what the parents choose for them,then, it’s done. Until the next cycle begins.
But, for the last few years the game has changed a lot. My daughter has been going through lots of things that I didn’t, AT ALL. In good and challenging ways. Before seven, she has been to many places, meeting and playing with lots of different kids, exposed to kind of weather and cultures, talk and think in totally different language than mine.
There’s no way raising her with the same mindset like my parents would work.
It reminds me of Kahlil Gibran’s famous poem The Prophet :
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might.
His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable
I feel like needing constant reminder whenever it feels frustrating because I keep pushing something only from my point of view.
But, there’s one thing that should be remembered : we’re not only raising a child, but also a future adult.
Tricky bussiness indeed.
Lastly, a closing page, still from ‘Special’ summed it well :
Bear these in mind, you.
It’s her who has been doing a good job so far, and you ride along.
So, take credits, but not too much.
Feel guilty, but never too much too.