Home

Competitive parenting; part one

June 27, 2012

After I had written the Top Ten Things  I Didn’t Know Until I Was a Parent (in the post ‘And suddenly you’re a parent’),  I remembered another.  Peer pressure by proxy. Worrying that your child is not doing all the right things at the right stage. It was acute with the first, because that’s the one you learn on, whereas with subsequent ones there was a realisation that actually there isn’t a tick box of specific tasks by specific dates –  it’s all fairly movable. Plus we were so knackered by the time we had three under four that we didn’t know what any of them were meant to be doing or not.

I caveat this post with the fact that we were lucky in that there was no real worry that there were serious developmental difficulties. What I am talking about here are the stupid anxieties induced by seeing the achievements of other children and believing they reflect badly on yours for not doing the same. I hasten to add my husband was not remotely afflicted by this. Only me.

Mealtimes

The first time I felt it was when I went to visit the friend who had had their daughter the day before our son was born.  I was poleaxed by the fact that her eight month old was eating by herself using a spoon.  Our boy would grab a spoon if you loaded it for him, but by no means was he independently eating. It was as likely to go on the floor or in his ear as in his mouth. If you let him have the spoon he would use it as a drum stick, sending porridge flying round the kitchen as he banged happily in to the bowl.  I came home from that visit with the first pangs of parental peer pressure by proxy. Although, it wasn’t really peer pressure as my friend had not been gloating or insinuating our son was slow. It was just how I felt. And a bit jealous.Then everyone else’s babies started crawling. Ours didn’t. Just sat. And lay down. No crawling. No standing. No pulling up on furniture. Made it simpler for me as I knew he’d still be where I left him if I popped to the loo or went out of the room for whatever reason. He would flap his arms up and down and bounce on the spot to the Neighbours’ theme as I had become addicted to it whilst breast feeding him so I think it was a Pavlovian response to the music. But apart from that no attempt to move.

Pulling up and holding on. But not yet walking.

For his first birthday we bought him a wooden push along trolley and he dutifully pulled himself up to standing using it. But then flopped down. But he could at least pull himself to standing with something to help him.  By now he would bounce along on his bottom if he wanted to get from A to B. But usually he wasn’t inclined, and would happily sit and play for hours with his toys in exactly the same spot.When he still wasn’t crawling  or walking by the time number two arrived it made it easier for me, although there was some relief when he did eventually start moving. He bypassed the crawling stage and went straight to walking at about 17 months. Fairly late, but got there eventually. Of course, as ever with these scenarios it is easy to overlook the positive things he was able to do and simply focus on the negatives. In fact he had great linguistic capabilities and could comprehend completely what we would say to him by about 10 months. And he was brilliant with his sister when she arrived not long after he turned one.

But of course it was at school where the intense comparisons started. With little girls leaving nursery aged 3 and 4, clutching their armfuls of paintings with their names scrawled at the bottom, I would search for any crayon capability. Any drawing. Any painting. Any writing. Any artwork at all. There was none forthcoming.

All he did was run about outside, sometimes wearing a Batman cape,  sometimes play Lego or Playmobil. No real interest in reading, although we tried and he loved his Dad’s storytelling. But no interest at all in writing or drawing. I did get a bit worried, but I was confident he was bright enough from the converstaions we would have and that he could do basic mental arithmetic with me when we went shopping.

Then he went in to Reception Year. Just four years old and at school all day. At the end of the year the young teacher told us that she thought he may have learning difficulties. She wasn’t sure.  He was in the bottom 25% of the class academically.   I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it, but she was insistent. He could only read a few simple words, and not that well, he couldn’t write , she wasn’t sure he understood what was going on.  I was taken aback.  I could not believe she thought our boy was not the brightest thing known to man.

So I did what any mother would do – I went and told on the teacher to her boss who happened to be his old Nursery teacher and  about to retire. I was near to tears. Bizarre really that I should take any notice of a wet behind the ears newly qualified teacher.

First day at School

The old and wise teacher  was 100% reassuring and explained he couldn’t develop everything at once – things just had to take their turn. So he had been busy developing physical and creative skills with the games he played, building  and mathematical skills with his Lego , linguistic skills with his conversation etc etc. But he wasn’t yet ready to develop the literacy. Reading and writing would come to him when he was ready. She was absolutely sure he was bright as a button. I had been too in my heart, but needed the external expert validation somehow.And sure enough his reading suddenly took off in Year Two and he has never looked back. A faster and more avid reader I have never met.

And I would love to meet that stupid Reception teacher (she left the following year) to tell her how utterly wrong she was for writing him off. And to push his English  Masters degree in in her face and say “Bottom 25% academically? I don’t fucking think so.”

The best ever Christmas present. Aged Four. In Reception Year at School.

Advertisements

5 Responses to “Competitive parenting; part one”


  1. […] up in the first few years of high school if you are above average intelligence. Which, you may remember one of ours was not thought to be. […]

  2. Jess Says:

    Hehe know exactly what you mean Sarah! Love those pictures too – handsome as well as brainy! x

  3. Kate Says:

    Love this so much!


No need to fill in your details - just let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: