Oryana discovers standing back is harder than running forward.
Deep in the haze of my pram pushing days I recall a couple of conversations with my mother-in-law, where the comment – Little kid, little problem; big kid, big problem – popped up.
How could taking care of a big kid be harder than sleeping five hours? On a good night. Broken into two-hour increments. And running after a two-year old while breastfeeding a newborn?!
A couple of years later, I’m starting to understand what she meant.
Thankfully there are no serious problems in the household, and my kids are healthy and happy – but in the last few years, parenting has taken on a whole new set of challenges.
Pureeing pumpkin and toilet training sounds easier than helping older children navigate emotions, relationships, the pain of getting tonsils out, broken bones, school, social pressure and the big wide world out there.
It threw me because I always thought parenting would become less intensive, or difficult, as my children got older. It doesn’t.
Between being a taxi driver, homework, violin, swimming and the other things that come with school, all of a sudden my seven-year-old needs more of me than she needed a year ago.
In those early baby years it was all about tending to the basic needs – food, sleep, cuddles and playtime. Even the most seriously sleep deprived mother can do those (albeit, with her eyes closed).
If problems get bigger as kids grow, I don’t want to even think about my kids getting a mobile phone, entering the social media world, body image, high school, driving or dating yet.
For now my daughter is just taking her first steps in developing a life outside of the home nest. Along with this entry to the bigger world, come the harsh realities of how your child fits into the social structure (and kids can be mean).
Imagine if all of a sudden your tough Tommy comes home with a black eye; poor Sally cries in the morning saying she has no friends to sit with at lunchtime; shy Joe is unable to read and it turns out he has dyslexia; and so it goes.
The natural instinct is to step in and take over – sort everything out for them. Of course in some instances, it’s good for parents to intervene. But in many other cases, that’s where the valuable life lessons kick in.
It’s important to instil independence in our children, so they can see the outcome of their actions – even on a small scale at first. Right now we’re taking baby steps – like if you don’t empty your lunch box, you might not have a lunchbox the next day.
That is how I was brought up – and of course growing up in the 70s and 80s were different. But it sure feels strange when the shoe is on the other foot, and you have to be able to let them go on their own.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook that her teenage son recently forgot his assignment as he dashed out to school. My friend had reminded him several times the night before to print it out and not leave things to the last minute. He didn’t listen, instead playing Nintendo and talking on the phone with his mates until late that night. When my friend got a desperate call the next day from her son, pleading her to drive the assignment to school, her answer was “no”.
If small scenarios like these are part of the insurance policy to help big problems down the track become just a little smaller, than I’m all up for encouraging our offspring to take ownership of their actions.
It’s great having eight hours of sleep at night and not getting woken up to feed, but standing back is harder than running forward to catch your child at every wobble.
I can only hope that the parenting we have done so far will help our children for what’s to come in the future. I also have faith that, like those early parenting days, every bit of time we invest in our children now, will better equip them for the big things that will inevitably come their way later.
When I was talking to an older friend about this, her response threw me: “Wait until high school. That’s when they’ll really need you.”
I nearly chocked on my banana bread. I guess it goes back to the old adage, big kid, big problem …
Oryana Angel – Parenting
Aside from spending time with her two children and husband, Oryana can be found in the well-trodden halls of News Limited where she writes for The Australian, The Daily Telegraph andSunday Telegraph. She has also written for Australian Geographic, New Zealand Herald, Jerusalem Post, Sydney Morning Herald, The Big Issue, Cosmopolitan and more. Growing up with hippie parents she rebelled by going to uni, marrying a nice young man and later enforcing routine on her own children. Nowadays she enjoys getting to the heart of important social issues, telling people’s stories and enjoying the journey of life. You can contact Oryana or read other articles she has written, at www.oryanaangel.com .
Life Balance = Family. Friends. Nature.