Monday, March 26, 2007

Bragging Rights?

Among the topics of child-rearing bloggers often tackle seem to be those issues of child development and parental pride for such development. The cherished Mom 101 brought it up this week and Kittenpie reminded me about it on my last post. What follows is sort of a rip off of my comment at Mom 101's post but seemed to bear some second reading.

Firstly, I should explain that I used to keep a lot of my pride in my little girl under a bushel. With the gene pool offered by her father and I better not get her hopes up -- that was pretty much how I started out. But then after a wee bit of blogging I changed my tack. A bit over a year ago a reader commented on a blog (was it mine? I don't remember...) "I am pretty sure my Mom never had nice things to say about me like that." That hit me like a ton of bricks. Me neither I likely thought. I was sold... no more light under a bushel thing for my daughter. I would praise her without hesitation.

But since then (in the differences for an 18 month old versus a 2 and a half year old) I have changed my tune. Now I do hesitate. I have distinct reasons for this. Mostly since my parents push my daughter's bag of tricks I have seen how it might be damaging to her. She is a smart little thing and while I wouldn't hestitate to tell her so, regardless of the banter about the inverse power of praise, I no longer make a habit of it. Take for example one of her major skill -- talking. She a real talker and has been from early on. When daddy comes home she asks, how was the traffic, daddy? She could recite whole books at barely one year old. Last week when we almost lost our cat she surprised me with "Ahh, what a relief!", cute huh? Where does she get this stuff? She tells great stories, just like her dad.

But when her grandmother wants her to turn it on for a crowd or just plain turn it on I get pretty irked. You know how it is... the staging to make a toddler sing their abc's or leading questions to have them spit out precocious terminology like 'ballustrade' or 'absolutely'... they don't always work as a mother knows. But grandparents ... they seem to forget that.

In some ways I don't want to care about milestones anymore... and as I said on Metrodad's blog not too long ago I am as proud of her blowfish impression as anything else. Besides when she's 5 and everyone can do what she does now anyway what will all this rah-rah honey have done besides fucked up her expecations of what an accomplishment is? They're babies.


Blogger Mad Hatter said...

There is nothing quite like that pit-of-the-gut anxiety about our children's talents. My daughter is verbally advanced. Some day that will level out with her peers and I try to take it all in stride. But I am in a Mom's group where all the toddlers are a few months younger than my daughter. In the early days, her milestones were sort of set up as ball-park bench marks for the other moms. Then she started speaking. A few months went by and it was clear that the other kids did not have her verbal skills. I went into "slough-it-off" mode. "I think she has concentrated on the verbal" I'd say "because physically she is still very timid. She's a slow developer in other areas." In short, I was explaining away this one trait that she has that's pretty astonishing.

Now I am trying hard not to do that. When someone tells me that my daughter is verbally advanced I simply say "yes, she is. For now. It has been good for our family b/c it means she doesn't get frustrated too often."

And I try to not treat her like a trained monkey which suits her just fine.

11:13 a.m.  

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