Monday, April 7, 2014

Sometimes Mama May Not Know Best

I'm the kind of mum who over babies my kids. I don't know why I do it. Yes I believe in teaching them to be independent. Yet I'm the kind who not only reminds them to drink when they're thirsty, but even hand them their bottles. Sometimes I even open the caps for them.

I think it's because I think I know what's best for them. But there was something that I battled within myself for some time. Something that I wanted to send my five year old for, but I didn't quite know how it would turn out.

Sometimes we sign our kids up for stuff or bring them to activities because we know they'd have fun and enjoy making new friends or pick up a skill. This thing was a bit tricky. It was a fun thing but let's just say it would put my daughter in very unfamiliar surroundings.

My husband and I had long discussions about this. Yes we think it is important to expose our kids to different situations so that they're not sheltered throughout, and that  they can learn from different scenarios. This was one good example. That's what the logical parent in me thought. The mummy in me however said, "Yes, but there's are certain situations that can be postponed, and perhaps five is a bit too you go or her to be thrown into something so unknown?"

Like I said, many long discussions with my husband, followed by many internal battles. We finally decided to let her go for it. It was something we knew she would enjoy. She's an energetic, friendly, very sociable five year old; should be no problem for her to fit right in and find a best friend straight away right?

Wrong.

There are perhaps few things more emotionally painful than for a mother to stand and watch her child feeling all left out and nervous. But I had to do that. I told her I would stand right there till I felt she was comfortable and then leave because I wasn't supposed to stay.

To her credit, she tried her best to fit in and didn't even look at me. She'd forgotten I was there. Which, on hindsight, could have been a bit of a blow to me, but looking at the situation on hand, I am more proud of her at having done what she needed to do instead of worrying about silly ole Mama's emotions.

I was always taught to stand out, to be different to be seen and heard, and I've taught my daughter the same thing. Today I saw that all she wanted to do was to blend in. That she wanted nothing more but to fit right in and be like everyone else. That was a big lump in my throat to swallow. Had I been wrong all along? Does fitting in fit her better? I don't know. Perhaps in this situation, that was true.

I sensed that all my five year old wanted to do was fit in with everyone else and for that split second, I felt like a five year old me again, feeling the same way because I was much taller than my friends. Because I was the only one with short hair. Because I didn't have Barbie dolls. 

Watching her struggling to fit in almost made me want to run to her and hug her and carry her off and say "Oh this is too much, let's go for something familiar. Like a big chocolate ice cream so you can laugh and smile be you again. Not this scared little child. Please be you again!! I miss you!" 

But I had to control myself. I have to let her learn. So I left. And just as I did, I saw her laughing a little. She was really trying to make friends

Perhaps, I'm worrying too much. I can't help it. I'm a mother. I'm her mother, that's my job. Perhaps she enjoyed herself so much the minute I left. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

All I know is that from now, I will discuss with my daughter for things I'd like to sign her up for, and seek her opinion. She may be a child but her thoughts count as well.

I may be a Mama and the kids may think I know everything, but I still have a lot to learn.

4 hours. That's a long time for a mum to spend aimlessly wandering around without another child to drag along nor errands to run. But I couldn't stay there. I had to get out. I also didn't have any mood to do anything. So I just sat at the closest shopping mall with a drink and cried. I think Poppy and I will go for a big ice cream later. We both deserve it. 

18 comments:

  1. Hi Adora, thank you for writing this. It's a dilemma many (dare I say all?) parents will face at some point in time. Was there a significant age gap between Poppy and the other participants of this activity perhaps?

    Regards,

    Wan Wah

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    1. That's a good point. She was one of then youngest, yes. Most were 2 years older than her at least. But she's tall so she got away with it I think

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    2. Uh oh seems like crying in public is your thing! *kidding*

      Wan Wah

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  2. Thanks for sharing. I'm also beginning to learn to treat my kids like an adult. To seek their opinion instead of doing what I think is right and they will enjoy. Thanks for reminding me again.

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    1. It's a good reminder for me too :) happy to share and learn together!

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  3. Hugs. My heart aches when I see Jay struggling or being the odd one out especially over here, and I can understand how you feel. Poppy is a wonderful girl - bright, loud, bubbly, positive, all traits that will bring her on a road to success in the future - and you are doing an awesome job with her. But yes - as an almost-six-year old (yikes!) she definitely can choose the kind of activities she is most comfy with!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, San. I'm the kind who likes surprising people and I thought it would have been nice to surprise her with this (like I often surprise her with activities I know she likes). Perhaps for new things, I should seek her opinion first :)

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  4. Oh this is so touching! I can feel for you! I think kids when thrown in a foreign environment will bring out their survival instinct and skills to adapt. They'll rough it out better than we thought and learn independence and precious skills which may surprise us. We parents probably have to learn to let go when the time comes. That deserves big ice cream.

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    1. That's true. That's what the logical part of me argued too. She did well. Enough to ask to return! Which doesn't quite gel with what I saw but I suppose five year old kids are more resilient than 30 something year old mums.

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  5. When I left my elder boy at his preschool for the first time when he was 4, he cried till he vomited. Despite the teachers constantly telling me that it's just a phase, I could not bear to do it a second time. It ended up with me being there with him for a good 2 months before we ( both my boy and I) could finally let go of each other. When it came to his younger brother, it was a little better, but still took us 3 weeks of me staying in his class before we could separate for 3 hours everyday. So I can fully understand what you mean......

    I make if a point to read your blog once a week and being a stay home mom for the past 10 years to 2 boys ever since they were born, I can empathize with what you go through. Especially love your entry about people thinking we are tai tais with nothing to do at home. Really makes me roll eyes whenever I hear comments like that, which I do get quite a lot.

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    1. Thank you for your comment and for your regular visits! I'm very touched that you took the time to write. Wow crying too vomiting must have been tough for you to go through. I'm so blessed when it comes to schools because poppy is the "ok bye!" kind of kid. Which means that I was the one crying on the first day of school, not her!

      Stay home mums go through a lot of things that people are not aware of. I'm glad you've identified in some of the things I've shared. We are not alone!

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  6. I can feel your struggle, it's always a tug-of-war for me- Am I caring too much? Am I caring too little? Should I do more? Am I doing too little? I guess we'll always be wondering, LOL~

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  7. A lump in my throat formed as I read the article.
    Yes, my eldest tries to fit in too. Her classmates in K2 seem to be academically driven already, and all she looks forward to is playground time. It doesn't help that I'm stressing out over her lack of interest in studies.
    I do the same too - getting the kids to drink water, handing them their bottles, and even opening the caps for them. Man, I even wipe their mouths with tissue after they are done! But I see it more of a way of showing my love. They have all the time and other ways to show their independence.
    Thank you for a great sharing of thoughts!

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    1. It's so hard to strike a balance between letting them learn at their own pace and nudging them toward "being on par with their peers". But we learn everyday don't we. And thankfully the kids are there to guide us :)

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  8. This makes me recall the time we send our K2 girl to a trial Ballet class. She was an independent kid so hubby and I just wave goodbye and went off to enjoy our coffee and book at the cafe nearby. When we return near the end of the lesson, to my horror I saw her sobbing with quivers while trying hard to follow the rest of the girls in doing the ballet movements. It broke our heart and needless to say, I wouldn't assume she's comfortable with every new thing from then onward.

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    1. :( I feel your guilt, I do! Too often we think they're fine, they're fine, they're resilient, they're made of tough stuff ... But we forget that they are also KIDS!

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