Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Navigating a minefield

Being a parent is hard. Being a parent that allows their kid to negotiate the difficulties in school on their own so that they might grow from it, is even harder.

And I'm not talking about their struggles with work.

The twins both have social insecurities.  They worry about people laughing at them. They worry about being made fun of and being called names. They worry that they have no friends.

It's hard for me, as a parent to watch them worry.

We tell them tales from our own insecure, lonely and awkward childhoods. They perk up, taking comfort in the fact that both mum and dad were dorks too.

It doesn't help that their world is still relatively black and white. If a kid calls him or her a name then that child doesn't like them. If a child is rude to them, then they don't like the kid anymore. If someone scolds them, that person must not like them anymore.

In their world, everyone must like them and they have to like everyone. They haven't quite figured out that there are people they will like better and will like them better. They haven't figured out that it's okay for the world to work that way.

Their best friend from kindy whom they still hang out with at every opportunity.
They moan about how much they miss kindergarten. When asked why, Jordan's response was that 'everyone was kind.' and that it isn't the case now. Evan chimes in about how everyone played together nicely and everyone was polite to one another.

I highly doubt that was the case. They look back with rose tinted glasses. But I suspect that at kindy, the teachers policed a lot more while now, the children are expected to navigate the minefield of kid politics on their own.

As a mom, I want to make it easier for them. It takes all my will power to not go to school and unleash the wrath of mother on the kid who called my daughter a name or laughed at my son so much he wanted to cry. It brings out the fiercely protective mother bear in me. It also tears at me to see them worry about whether they have friends and whether people like them. It brings back all too clearly, my own feelings of alienation and loneliness when I was the track darling of the teachers whom everyone else loved to hate.

Packrat steps in to stop me. He thinks it's a necessary stepping stone for them, possibly more important than whatever academic lessons their teachers. He thinks these insecurities and worries teach them to be empathetic, to never alienate or exclude others and hurt others in such a manner because from experience, they know how much it sucks.

So how have we dealt with it?

We've told them the truth. That we didn't have many friends. But the friends we had, many of whom we are still very close to. We tell them that those we stuck with, we looked out for each other and protected each other. And that they were more than enough.

Everyone who has had kids pass this stage tells us they will figure it out. But I'm beginning to realise that what is harder than being a kid today is to be a parent today, standing by the way side trying my darnedest to allow the child to be the one who navigates himself/ herself through all these little mines we call growing up. 


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