Do you ever have a moment where you stop sharp and see yourself clearly? Realise that adjustment is needed? I had one this week with my son, when I realised I have been underestimating him. Not all the time, but more than he deserves.
My youngest is well attuned to my continual volley of polite requests, moving through (often rapidly) to orders and demands as we battle through getting out the door in the morning. Followed by more of the same as we return in the evening.
He is usually distracted, not listening and very happy for someone else (namely me) to do things for him. Without the strident independence of his sister, there has been nothing to push us to change.
Yet this week, circumstances meant he had to take a leap forwards – go completely solo for his swimming lesson. Full responsibility for getting changed before and after, plus keeping hold of his belongings. He said he was nervous, he wasn’t sure he’d be ok on his own, he didn’t want to go. He went.
Not only did he manage, but he came out brimming with pride, ready to do it all again next week, explaining a system he’d created for managing his wet things. In short, he was a complete star.
Suddenly I realised that I had been underestimating him. Allowing his natural reticence and my unconscious reluctance to see my youngest move on, take precedence.
Do you ever underestimate your child? Are you holding them back?
I think the continual reluctance to do anything asked of him at home, had made me blind to the things he is doing:
- Wearing a mask to school – tick. He is managing this with ease, taking it seriously, changing it regularly, accepting its necessity as one of the rules.
- Passing me information from school – I know I can rely on what he says
- Looking out for others. I hear it in his stories about his friends, but he is the first to ask me how my day has been. And he listens to the answer.
He is ready for more. And now I realise that and it has properly sunk in, I will push his boundaries. I will challenge him further so I can see again that sense of pride and achievement shining brightly in his eyes.
Yet thinking through this small episode, I am now wondering if this is happening elsewhere too? Am I underestimating myself?
As a parent do you ever focus on what you haven’t achieved, rather than what you have?
Concentrate on the things that you take the easy option with, rather than where you go the extra mile?
I know my thoughts linger longer on the things I could do better with – the to-do list barely touched, the quick but nutritionally suspect meal dished up when short on time, the lack of focus given to a child’s meandering tale of nothing really at all.
Why is that exactly? Who gains? Why am I not recognising the things I am doing, with equal weight? Is a reset required?
I think it might be helpful. Do you feel in need of this too?
So I am going to move my gaze towards the positive. I’m going to register the things done rather than not. Focus on progress overall, rather than the tiny detail of things that could be better. Be easier on myself as a parent.
Although it may take a while, because I’m not underestimating that some habits take time to change!