Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Comparing Children

I've been struggling with a few things for a while, when it hit me one day that the real struggle was that I was comparing my children.

Comparing them to each other, and to others...

Everyone knows you're not meant to do that, and I should know better...but I *do* compare.

Not always in a negative way...more like noticing that J-Man did such-and-such earlier than Princess, and Princess did this other thing earlier than Tombliboo, and so on.

Half of it, I think, is that I have such a good memory for incidental things...like when the babies took their first steps, or when J-Man started counting or read his first word, or when Princess started doing puzzles or began dressing herself, or when Tombliboo first used the potty.

But none of it is overly useful. For one thing, it breeds a sort of competitiveness- I'm wary of it, so I don't think it has been damaging...but lately, I have been worried that J-Man spends the hours in his day in a different way to most children, and very differently to his sister. It's bugged me because of issues of health, and of power-usage, and wondering about squandered potential.

I've worried that Princess is not yet reading, and more than that- she seems utterly convinced she cannot read, and therefore has no reason to attempt it. I've thought about where J-Man was at the same age, and the enormous discrepancy, and while I have seen that she is still on a level with children her age, I was not relieved.

And I've worried that Tombliboo still won't use the potty for poo, and is still happy enough to pee in his pants- where his brother and sister (not ec'ed, gently but conventionally "toilet-trained" at their request) had these things sorted by this age (24 months).

Such a lot of worry...such a lot of questioning myself and my beliefs about how children learn....wondering what on earth one could do to change these things, and feeling powerless because I do believe in the inate ability of children to learn what they need for their lives without artificial contrivance, or parental interference or any coercion.

I'm too tired to think things through properly at the moment, and have never been a deep thinker in the first place. It was just sitting with me...and it's not a nice thing to think.

And then it hit me...hallelujah!

Whenever I compare my children to others, whenever I don't accept (and adore) who they are right now...I am effectively saying they are not good enough, not quite complete, "less than", actually they are a disappointment.

And that is assuredly what they are not.

I must have known this before, and I'm not sure what changed...but I know it properly now.

I am loving the unfolding, and unfurling, the growing and learning I see...maybe I had stopped noticing it, stopped looking for it, got too caught up in the "end result" rather than this day, this hour, this moment.

J-Man explained the fractional reserve banking system, as well as the likely effects of peak oil to his guild members on WoW the other day. I only just learned about those things this year...is his potential being squandered? I don't think so.

Princess is not reading at double her chronological age like her brother was...but by 6, he had already stopped reading, where she still adores books- would love to visit the library every day. Watching her learn to read is fascinating...watching her learn anything, and wondering why "today" was the day, and what made the switch flick, is fascinating.

Tombliboo has begun to take his pants off and run to the potty, calling out "Where'd it go, where'd it go?", until he finds it (why oh why don't we leave it in the same place??). He used to only take his pants off *after* he had wet them. He is dry every night, and most days as well. I wouldn't say he's a grad yet, even for pee, but he's on his way. He's learning at his own pace, and in his own way.

All three of them are learning all the time, even when I don't see it, even when they are not aware. So, I'm back...and I'm loving it :0)

1 comment:

Noix_coco said...

Great post Lish' yes indeed everything is in the journey...not the destination... I try to be careful when comparing as well. Comparing is in human nature according to the French sociologist Bourdieu, but what we do abouth the results must remain fair to our children I reckon.