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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Theodore Roosevelt authored the  quote in my post title.  I think this sums up the largest challenge of parenting for me!  I ALWAYS find myself comparing Jackson to other kids.  Trust me, it does NOT help that I have an Early Childhood background, because everything I learned goes out the window when my OWN child is involved!  Oh dear...

I'm going to attempt a Top Ten List to address many comparison situations:

1. You are at a playdate and your child inexplicably forgets how to drink out of a cup!  True, we still used closed cups most of the time, but I have made sure to give him practice and I know he knows how to drink like a civilized human being.

2. You are in a restaurant and even though you go out to eat fairly often, your child cannot seem to keep his bottom in the chair, his food on his plate, or his mouth closed!

3. Your child runs farther ahead of you than they should in a store, and almost collides with another shopper.  This does not get my face hot unless the shopper gives me or my child a dirty look.  I still am usually able to blow it off and think they are just being extra crabby.

4. You are trying to get one story told without interruption while talking to a fellow adult.  Your child chooses to keep yelling your name instead of saying, "Excuse me, Mommy," like you KNOW he knows how to say...

5. Even though you have had a chat before entering said location, your child uses his outside voice when you feel like you conquered that issue months ago.  You must then explain why EVERYONE does not want to hear what he has to say/scream.

6. Your child does not listen on the first try causing you to raise your voice to get his attention.  Then, he does not respond to your attempt to give him a subtle warning to choose to listen to what you are asking.

7. When your child is just over one, you totally feel like hitting comes with the territory.  Once they are toddlers/pre-schoolers, you feel like other moms stare you down after your child hits another child thinking, "So, what are YOU going to do about this?"  Of course this misbehavior should be addressed, but it seems like a serious misdemeanor on your part too!

8. While riding in the cart at the grocery store, your child thinks kicking you or hitting your arms as you push is a helpful activity.  You then find yourself being "that" parent hissing through your teeth and giving "scary looks" to your child in hopes that he will cut it out.

9.  When playing Hide and Seek, your child momentarily "forgets" how to count to 10, when you KNOW he has been doing this for MONTHS!  (This example applies to any type of learning of facts--colors, ABCs, shapes, etc.)

10. You have seen SO many moments when your child happily shares toys and gives other friends turns.  When you are playing with a particularly demanding child, however, your child reverts back to the I-must-have-THAT-toy-RIGHT-NOW mentality.  You were SO hoping your child would set a good example and you could continue being annoyed with the other child...

Of course we ALL know that one isolated incident is not a solid basis on which to judge a child or parent.  BUT, we all do it, don't we?  After a particularly trying outing, I remind myself of this and feel better for a few minutes.  But then I remember that I have done the same thing to other parents, and someone probably judged me...  It's not realistic to be a calm parent all the time.  I never want to come across like I'm putting on an act, but I find myself thinking, "Why can't you just behave so it helps me show off my best parenting moments?"

I am making it a more intentional goal to NOT compare Jackson to other children in order to steer my parenting.  We get lots of compliments on his behavior, and I want to just trust those!  My real friends see us a lot, and spend lots of time with Jackson, so there is no judging based on one incident.  Strangers in stores might judge me based on an off moment Jackson has, but who cares?  Well, I do, apparently, but I'm working on not caring so much ;)  I'll likely never see them again, and in the three plus years I have been parenting Jackson, I'm pretty pleased with the little guy I have to hang out with :)

Check out Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings!


Susie said...

I totally know what you mean. It's so frustrating when someone's first or only impression of your child (and therefore your parenting) is at one of his/her not-so-lovely moments. But I can vouch that both your child and your parenting skills are particularly lovely overall. ;)

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine once reminded me, "They are children. If they were perfect, they would be Angels."