A mother who models.
So, I have an uber scientific theory on parenting (for the record I’ve been a parent for what feels like 30 seconds, and I have but one cherub). It’s mainly based on a realisation I had. A quintessential “a-haaaa” moment. That is, that children probably turn into the adults they are surrounded by, mostly in spite of what we tell them, particularly when our actions don’t back up our words. *drops mic*
…allow me to rewind a bit. I was raised with the mantra “Do as I say, not as I do” . This rule demanded blind and utter obedience of me as the child, otherwise there was a swift “sfaliara” (slap) coming my way or, depending on the mood, an “anapodi” (back-hander) was dealt to sort out my anarchy. This was also done to ultimately somehow teach me, between the right and wrong attitude/behaviour/choices/whatever. It was also both implied subtly and overtly stated, that when I was an adult, I would be enormously entitled to command my home and my offspring in the very same way. In fact, that it would be remiss of me not to and what would the neighbours think! I’m also the eldest of three, with a gap of 12 yrs between me and the baby of the family so I was also fortunate to be exposed early on to what it really means to have a newborn in the house. Unsurprisingly, having a child was not a priority for me, ever. Being responsible for another humans entire existence along with their emotional and psychological wellbeing was low on my bucket list.
Fast forward 25 years and I’m 3.5 years into the most amazing time of my life (a story I will share when Zoe’s desperate for one!). A time where I’m modelling behaviour that flies in the face (see what I did there?) of what I was taught. I’m breaking hardwired programming, and it has been hard, like, next level hard. However, modelling the behaviour I wish to see in my child has been the best thing I could do for the both of us. I’d go so far as to say it’s been a healing experience for me, closure on issues that burdened me and influenced my life choices.
At this juncture, I’d like to state for the record, that my super-duper self-administered therapy and scientific theory (in case anyone wishes to nominate me for The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2018) is well-substantiated and based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment of T and myself. That’s it. Thus, I provide the following as a sample of my “research”
It’s a regular weekday afternoon, I’ve picked up T and we are now on a stinky tram, after a long, hot and stinky day of separation; me at work, T at day care. T is 3.5 years old, I’m …. not 21 but not 40 and have used the word “rewind” and “fast forward” in this piece, so y’all can work it out for yourselves.
T: Mama! Your hand! What happened? Are you ok? Do you need a Banda Aid?
T: *Points to the top of my left hand*
Me: *Looks at top of my left hand* “Oh”
T: *Gently holds my hand to inspect it too…and looks up at me with a concerned look* “Is that pen? Did you drawded on your hand?
T: Yes. It’s pen, I wrote a message on my hand
T: Why? Was it a aksi den?
Me: No, I wrote on my hand because I had to write down something important and I didn’t have paper.
T: For your boss? At work?
Me: It was at work, yes
T: *Not missing a beat* “Ok so that’s the truth?”
Me: Yes honey, that’s the truth.
T: “Ok so next time, don’t write on your hand, you need to find paper, mama, ok? If you don’t have paper, I can give you some from my drawer at home, so you can take to your office for your meetings, ok?”
Me: …um…ok. Thank you. I will make sure I find paper and I won’t write on my hand
Child: Okay. If your boss needs paper too, we have some, okay?
Me: Ok. Thank you for understanding
T: It’s okay. Mama, my foot’s itchy.
I’m not always good at modelling and I slack off more than I’d like to admit, especially in print, but then T does something like that and it blows me away. It reminds me what sponges children are, that everything I do is being catalogued in that little brain somewhere and that T treats me the way I treat T. So, I pick up my game.
I was told that this exchange also impressed the two people sitting opposite us on the tram. With my child right next to me, they proceeded to bypass T, and only address me to comment on our little exchange, without acknowledging T. Every time they asked me something about T; age, name, favourite colour etc, I referred the question to my child, for T to answer them. Which T did,very ably. This baffled them and before we parted ways, as we started to get off the tram, one asked me “why you keep doing dat?!” (Did I mention they were tourists?)
Wish I had been faster and more eloquent and had said something along the lines of “Obviously because I’m modelling respectful conversation, which is what that exchange earlier also displayed.” Or maybe “Remember, where I was picked up about writing on my hand? Clearly, I tell T to only draw on paper and nothing else, not body parts, not the walls or the couch or the cat, just paper. That’s why.” … but stop 20 had arrived and I was desperate for water and air-conditioned comfort, and a glass of wine. I just blurted out “because T copies me” and I waddled off into the sunset, with my child who proceeded to stop and scratch that itchy foot three more times as we walked home.
** Author’s note – I have intentionally written it gender neutral when it comes to T, as part of a social experiment, that will benefit only me as I will use the findings as a topic of discussion when I meet new people or use as evidence to back up rants on Facebook …**
Written by Anon T