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pet peeve: parents who want to build the perfect child
Nov 3rd, 2010 by wrekehavoc

not everyone can be doogie howser.

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they pump bach into their bellies while they’re pregnant, hoping it will boost junior’s math scores. they start teaching their child to read before he’s a year old. potty training? done by 18 months. and by age 5, junior’s expected to tackle Dostoevsky. oh, and he’s also a contender for the next olympics in gymnastics, too.

oh, their child is gifted, oh so bloody gifted. let me tell you something: i was a freak of nature back in the day, tested with a college reading level in the 2nd grade. i know a thing or two about getting that label slapped onto your file. i was (and AM!) very fortunate to have parents who never pushed me one way or another. i was permitted to just be me, which isn’t always the easiest thing to be, you know.

i remember a time when i was 9 years old. i was at the OLD ocean county library (not the big beautiful one that stands now in the middle of town). backtracking: my mother may never join a 12-step program for library addicts, but she pretty much wrote the book on how to visit a million different libraries every week. consequently, i believe that in the 1970s and into the 1980s, she knew every librarian in ocean county. the happy consequence of this is that Middlebro and i have always loved to read. (BTD, not so much, though i hear tell he now reads… voluntarily…) anyway, i brought my books up to dennis, the long-haired librarian, to check them out. elaine, he called to my mom, are you sure you want to let your daughter take these out? and before her, my mom saw my selections du jour: romeo and juliet by shakespeare, god bless you, mr, rosewater by kurt vonnegut, and war and peace.

i’m sure my mother wanted to burst out laughing, but with a straight face, she turned to me and said:  are you going to read all of these?

and earnestly, i replied, yes, mom.

it’s so important to let your child’s personal freak flag fly. besides, it can provide hours of amusement.

in short, i have no patience for parents who are pushing their kids to be la creme de la creme. i’m not entirely sure what drives this, but i suspect something went kerflooey in someone’s childhood, and he or she is trying to make it right by foisting this heavy weight onto his or her child’s psyche. sure, it’s great to expose children to all sorts of experiences; and if your child shows an early extra interest in math, or reading, or whatever, then by all means, let him pursue that as long as he enjoys it. but don’t push so hard.

this isn’t a science experiment; this is your child.

let him be a child. he will learn to read, he will learn to compute mathematical equations, he will learn to do all the things he is supposed to do. but right now, stop pushing him into some sort of mold of what you think he ought to be.  instead, why not sit back and watch this person unfold into a unique individual. let him be himself. and love him, warts and all.

if you want to put that much effort into making someone change, work on yourself first.


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