I went to my daughter’s school today to look at her books and see how she was getting on. You’ll be relieved to know that I was pleased. I was relieved that I was pleased. I am not easy to please! But she’s doing well and I was glad. One less thing for me to worry about. One less thing for me to feel guilty about and responsible for. Whilst I was there, I caught up with a dear friend, catching up and sharing news. We were mid-flow in conversation, when all of a sudden a man, (whose work name, not real name is some sort of army derivative), walked in and started chatting to us. I liked his no-nonsense attitude straight away. My friend explained that I was a parent and he told me a little bit about his approach when dealing with children – and honestly, it reminded me of my upbringing when I was growing up.
The truth is that we wrap children up in cotton wool right now. If a child falls over, they need medi-wipes, plasters, information being documented in books – it’s a whole drama. Of course, serious cuts and bruises are one thing – but a graze – come on! If you fall over, you have to be able to get back up and get on! I know that each generation looks at the next generation and thinks that ‘You don’t know how easy you have it now!’ Sometimes – this is true! The problem is that the more that children are treated as though they are made out of glass, they begin to believe that they are fragile and behave accordingly.
When I was young, we never had plasters in the house. Never. You fall – you fall – get over it! You’ll be fine. It’ll teach you to be more careful in the future. Guess what – it did? It was tough love all the time. You got an A minus for an assignment? Great – get an A. You got an A this time? Good – do it again! There was never any celebrations and dwelling on what a great job you’ve done – it was all about, right – get on with it, the next job won’t complete itself you know!
Frustrating. Exasperating. Annoying.
Especially, when I saw that other parents of other children were gushing over their children when they perhaps hadn’t achieved what I had. Why couldn’t I be told, just once, that I’d done a good job and well done?
Well, it prepared me for real life. That’s the truth of it. How often in the real world do you spin a hundred figurative plates a day, without letting a single one drop? Who comes and says well done, that was a great job? Who even notices…? No one. So, you have to be self-motivated. You have to work hard because that is what you are naturally used to doing. You have to go a GOOD job – because that is what you are used to doing. You have to work this hard even when you are not being noticed because in the real world – people will notice when you drop one of those plates. Or perhaps when you are not spinning them in the way that you should.
I quite like this plate spinning analogy.
Anyway, I digress. I was not treated as though I was fragile. I was not allowed to behave like a diva or princess. I was not constantly (or in fact ever), told that I was doing a good job. But I was told that failure was not an option. Not doing your best was not an option. Not striving for more was not an option.
So, on the days that I reminisce about how I was never appreciated for getting good grades and how I never got treated for doing the right thing….I have to remind myself that what I actually gained was character. A drive. Self motivation. Self-belief.
Luckily, mum doesn’t read my blog so I can say this – but perhaps her approach was right after all. Shhhh – don’t tell her!
And then the guilt creeps in. My daughter had a really good report – and I told her that she was brilliant, that I was really proud of her. Gave her lots of hugs! We went out for dinner. We even went to the movies. And then I reflect! What life lessons is she learning? How am I going to build her character???? What am I doing – rewarding good work???
Then I have to remind myself to calm the heck down. Every generation is different. All people are different. My mum was available to me much more than I am available for my daughters. She was there to scold, or guide, or counsel me whenever I needed – and still is. My daughters have got to work hard – whether I am there or not. And so, I need them to know how proud I am of them that they can achieve what they do, even though I can’t help them with it. Hopefully, this teaches them to work hard. Hopefully, this teaches them to always do their best. Hopefully, this helps to build their character and become strong, successful, independent women of the future.
Hopefully, one day, they will read my blog and know, even if we’ve argued, even if we’ve disagreed, even if we’ve fallen out…that I will always believe in them – and know that one day, if they want to, they will be able to rule the world. They just have to believe they can – and try!