Ten years ago I knew perfectly well how to raise children. I generally didn’t like them that much I had none of my own and all children were someone else's. I had clear, simple and logical rules on how they should be raised. That’s why it was quite surprising and to be perfectly honest annoying to see that many of my childhood friends, who were having their first kids at around that time, were behaving absolutely differently in comparison to what I thought was right.
Their kids were shouting and interrupting our conversations (come on, can’t you tell them how to behave?), they were covered in porridge and banana mash even at the age of three (excuse me, where is her table manners? She is not a baby). They were throwing tantrums in shops (once again, come on, my dear friend, isn’t it time to stop spoiling them?). They didn’t want to share their snacks and toys (well, that is just absurd, “sharing is caring”, remember?!). They were crying because they lost a little broken car (goodness, my child would never cry like that because of a toy) and they were NOT potty trained at the age of 2.5 or even 3 sometimes (that is absolutely unacceptable).
And in addition to that, some of my friends were co-sleeping with their children, they were shouting at them from time to time and even giving them junk food on occasions. Their kids’ rooms were often messy and they were bringing these small creatures to restaurants, where kids often misbehaved and interfered with our calm Sunday afternoons.
So, not to continue on forever, the list of my critical thoughts was endless and most importantly many of our meetings with friends became painful as all the conversations ended up being related to kids. So, in short, paraphrasing one of the famous writers: “I was a perfect parent until I had kids”.
Now I have three sons and if only I had a chance to speak to myself from ten years ago, I would have told that young lady many interesting things, like, for example:
they will shout and interrupt even when you have explained behavioural norms to them a thousand times, just because up until a certain age they simply can’t control themselves when they need to share something important (in their opinion and especially with their parents). All you can do here is to stay calm and repeat just that one more time the rules of behaviour;
They will be messy. Messy from porridge, soup and tomato sauce. And not only that, they will be messy from all sorts of substances that you didn’t even know exist (especially boys). And your washing machine will daily go through loads of loads (haha loads of loads:);
They will throw tantrums. Not necessarily in shops, but they will. Maybe in the car, maybe on the plane during a ten-hour flight. And many passengers around will roll their eyes and sigh heavily and you will be smiling and helplessly try to explain to the pretty young passenger in the neighbouring seat that your kid is just tired and the flight was delayed and that his ears are not coping well with the pressure. And she just won’t understand you. Yet...;
They won’t share. Until a certain age they probably won’t at all. And it will turn out that all psychologists and parent educators deem it normal and advise you not to make your two-year old give away (albeit temporarily) his favourite truck or dolly but offer something else instead. And if that doesn’t work to just let them be and calmly teach them by example;
They will cry their eyes out because of a silly old broken car that got lost. Not only at three and four years of age but even at six and seven. They will always want their bigger brother’s car, and a green Ferrari is for some reason ten times better than a red one.
And I am not even going to start the potty training discussion. Apologies to all those moms who start early and spend months in the exciting mess of stains and puddles, I just figured out that when a little person is ready, he is ready. Maybe at two, maybe at two and a half, and maybe even at three he will simply go to the potty (or toilet, or bush in the garden, whatever he chooses) and in couple of days that will be it.
My kids come to me in the middle of the night with their ice cold feet and push my husband out of bed, they occasionally eat fast food and it is hard to get through their room without stepping on Lego or Magformers (and that is all with a wonderful helper in the house). Sometimes I shout at them. And yes, most of my conversation with friends at some point turn into conversations about kids.
I guess I am just trying to say that, luckily, ten years ago I was tactful enough to keep my thoughts to myself. We all are different people, with different stories, raised by different parents in many different ways. And it is wonderful. And most likely, I am not the only one, whose clear and logical theory about raising kids turned out to be completely different in practice.