Saturday, May 14, 2011

MOMents of Clarity #1

Forgive and/or blame my father for the title. We both have an unholy love of puns and word play. Also, YES you've seen the #1 on many, many posts, tempting you with the implicit promise of a series. Did the series continue? No. No they did not. BUT, they also didn't put that cute little itch in my head that says, Mama Bones, you are a mommyblogging genius.

So, who wants an insight from a mom training on the job?

This morning, the Bird was making her nest. (Her term, confirming the strength of my metaphor mastery.) The nest is a circle of pillows surrounding her and the chosen elite of dolls and stuffies. She was playing school, doing Circle Time. She appointed me Teacher and thrust a nursery rhyme book at me. We read The Three Little Pigs. She told me Miss Carolyn usually asks questions after reading. (Miss Carolyn, also known as My Friend and Mom of The Most Gorgeous Young Vegan Art Earth Maiden Ever, is completely awesome. The Q&A technique confirmed this.)

I asked the Birdy "What does the story teach us about hard work?" She answers, "If I don't work hard people will be mad at me."

I am still Teacher, so my "Wow...." belies the bursting into tears I just felt inside. I asked her who gets mad at her. "My Mommy, my Daddy, my Papaw and Mamaw..." Teacher-me then asked "Why do your grown-ups usually get mad at you?" and her answer was less scary: When I bweak the wules and don't listen." So, I offered that I felt the story tells us when we work hard, our house, our artwork, our homework, or our job are the best they can be. That house was soooo strong!

I then threw in one last psychological ninja move, asking, "What if you worked your hardest and what you made wasn't perfect. Would your grown-ups be mad at you?" She answered, "No. Because I did my best." and I took off Teacher hat and confirmed that yes, doing her best is what makes us proud.

So I gained insight that was perhaps only terrifying to me. The thing is, in my childhood, I was a tiny Type A living in terror of the 'B' grade or the runner-up slot. I was certain my father would be furious if I failed, quit, or ceased to be the most amazing Whiz Kid (this was his name. Mom called me Bug) in the Universe. Looking back with the 20/20 that comes to our minds about when it abandons our eyes, I see that I was interpreting praise as expectation. POWwhamBOOM it was NOT my Dad's fault. In fairness to The Dadeo (my name) this insight started forming when I quit band in elementary school, and he didn't stop loving me. I had fully expected an abrupt end to our relationship at age 9.

I'll be chewing on this a while. It looks as though my calculus-and-chess husband and my alliteration-and-grammar self are raising a "gifted" child (that terminology is EVIL, BTW) and I really want her to spend her childhood not terrified of falling short of Einstein/da Vinci. I'm hoping more than usual this will be a dialogue, and I'll be linking my Pops to this post for sure.

Thoughts? Am I overthinking or being an obnoxiously presumptuous mom-of-smartypants? Lemme have it:


  1. YES!! Something I've realized in the past couple of years was that, as a chid, I wasn't taught to fail. The revelation was a huge "A Ha!" moment for me. It's still hard for me to deal with failure, even when I know I tried my best. I'm glad Molly is learning that early in life.

  2. I think it's a careful dance we have to do. I set very high expectations for my kids but try to be careful not to use love and affection as the reward. I try to use very tangible rewards/punishments. I don't always succeed. Still working on it.