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School returns... with all its frustrations February 04 2016

As school starts back and I finally watch our first born happily get dressed and ready for school it warms my heart. I am so proud of how far he has come. He was THAT child crying and clinging to my leg for years. YEARS. He actually has always enjoyed school once he was there and has the most awesome BFF’s you could ask for, but he would just rather be at home. Blame the big back yard full of boys toys and the Dad who is a big kid himself, but the appeal of leaving our nest was never there for our eldest. Until now. And that makes me SO happy. 

At the height of his anxiety one stressful morning, he almost pulled one of the most senior teachers over in the mud. You see, she had kindly offered to help me try to remove his grip from the car door as I wrangled the other children and bags in the rain. We both believed he would respond better to her kindness but NO, he put up a fight. He is a very determined child and I am happy about that. BUT I wasn’t looking forward to pulling both him and this amazing woman out of a muddy puddle. Luckily it didn’t come to that, but it is an image I will never forget.

Having a child like this is equally heart breaking and equally frustrating. You know how confident they can be and you know that once inside the classroom, it is the best place for them. Luckily I was pretty confident that no issues with any other children, or teachers, or learning, were the cause of his anxiety. I just wanted him to let himself enjoy it. That’s where the frustration comes in. You know they will thrive if they just let themselves. Now I have learnt, at least with us, that you need patience and time to get to that point. 

He was the same for birthday parties. He would be so excited when he received an invitation and carefully planned the present and count down the days. Until it was time to go. I have since learnt that this is very common. The fear of the unknown. Not knowing that person’s house, what exactly was going to happen at the party and if I was going to LEAVE him there. Several times we were forced to pull out at the last minute or I was the only Mum who stayed and watched from the corner. It was so frustrating for us to watch him miss out. What child doesn’t want to go to a party with their friends? Ours. And many others apparently. 

So the reason for my post is this. Every child has their “thing”. As confident as they look striding into the classroom alone, or speaking confidently in Assembly or winning another blue ribbon, every Mum is dealing with something that is frustrating about their child. Don’t be fooled by appearances and the small glimpse into their life that you may get. Don’t compare your children to theirs and don’t be hard on yourself. As I said it takes patience and time. 

Last year we tackled his first school camp. Well wasn’t that months of dread and anxious conversations, (or non conversations) avoiding the thought of his upcoming departure? All for nothing. He was awesome. Yes the build up was horrible. Heart wrenching for me as I put on a brave face boldly promising him that he would love it. Surprise surprise, the tears I saw were from the children I least expected. Once you share your own story, other Mums tell you things about their child that you may least expect. 

If you are reading this and not relating, count yourself very lucky. And your perfectly well adjusted child. Families of many kids know how different they all can be. Nature versus nature. I have learnt a lot about this having identical twins. It is not ALL YOUR FAULT! The temperament and personality they are born with, determine so much. Of course nurture is SO important, but some kids are just born that way, and as parents we need to earn how to bring out the best in that individual at that particular stage.

I read a lot of Steve Biddulph’s literature on raising boys and last year I was lucky to hear him talk in person. He was amazing and empowering and I walked away with so many thoughts racing. One thing he said that resonated with me so much and I will never forget it, is this.

You do not MAKE your child, you MEET your child.

So simple, yet so powerful. From a young age we consciously and unconsciously create an image of the type of parent we are going to be. They type of child we are going to have. A mixture of the best parts of both parents. Our expectations are high and they are not often met.

Our first born has taught us to remove our own expectations and open our minds more to meeting him. He is amazing. He is different to how we thought he was going to be, he is so much better, because he is Charlie. His quirks and frustrations and steely resolve are amazing. He has brought on the grey hairs and extra bags under my eyes and tested my patience to no end.  He isn’t what I would have predicted, he is better. 

This week as I watch him take the confidence and humour that he has always shown us at home with him to school, I couldn’t be prouder. He has opened up my eyes so much as a parent and given me confidence too. 

Whatever their “thing” is, if you learn to MEET them where they are and work with them in their way a bit more, their time will come. One day they will speak in Assembly, or eat five food groups in one day or bring home a blue ribbon and your heart will just melt.  

You do not MAKE your child, you MEET your child.