Tuesday, 31 March 2009

28x more betterer

Apparently if Wriggly did X then he would be "better".

I heard this news second hand, from a reliable source, last week, and it stopped me in my tracks. As my chin headed floor-wards, and my eyebrows to the ceiling, I was without words to verbalise either the ridiculousness or the judgy-ness of the comment. It was so many types of wrong I didn't know which one to refute first. I settled for a withering stare, which my informant agreed with.

Why do we do this to each other, this Olympic mothering? Why do we make such hurtful and gratuitous comments, unleashing them from the smug confines of our brains to slash at others.

The identity of X is irrelevant. It's not something I'm against, but it's something that doesn't suit our family right now. X would not make Wriggly smilier or hugglier or happier. It might help him to develop in some areas faster than he is now, but it also might not. I'm quite comfortable to just let the boy grow and change as he will, without pushing or pulling or prodding. He's a child, and he will just develop as he does, to some extent regardless of what those around him do beyond loving and supporting him and giving him opportunities.

Note to the world at large: most mothers are going to bristle when you assert that their offspring could be better. Do so at your peril.


Deborah said...

Oh, come on, Julie. Get with the program. You know that Wriggly would be speaking in complete sentences by now, and starting to read Thomas the Tank Engine stories if only you had enrolled him in Junior A-B-C classes when he was 10 days old. And training for the high jump too, if only you took him along to gym classes.

Face it. That child is deprived, and it's all YOUR FAULT!


The ex-expat said...

And apparently this all gets worse as they get older, welcome to the world of the hyper parent.

Azlemed said...

its hard to juggle what you "should" be doing etc.... K does one after school activity, and thats it till next year when she might get to do a second.

It sad that mums especially feel the need to make out that their child/ren is so much better than any other child of the same age. theres enough competition in life without starting it at birth.

Giovanni said...

Olympic mothering... heh. Fathers are just as bad though.

Of our first child, when a certain competetiveness started brewing in the room, we used to say that he was advanced, but not very advanced - more mature than his his actual age by about twenty minutes. Child number two is actually quite... different, and consequently not only I have less time than ever before for that kind of crap, but it also feeds into my worries for her and that's something I really don't need.

Anonymous said...

I get concerned about clearly missed milestones and things that might indicate problems. Also about stuff that drives me nuts, like curious children wanting to know why stuff happens when I'm supposed to be doing other things.

I'm impressed that you seem relaxed about it. Focus on that. Better, focus on making me blueberry muffins. Or at least finding me a recipe for them. I like blueberry muffins.

(does that sound like the writing of someone with ADHD?)

The ex-expat said...

Ask and you shall receive

A Nonny Moose said...

Olympic Mothering, great term.

Another reason to add to my list of being Happily Childfree.

Grandmas get it to...from the grandmas on the other side of the family. Hence why my niecelings and nephlings have more CRAP/toys/books/technology in their first five years than I did up to the age of 18.

Competishun chyuld raring - ur doin it rung.

backin15 said...

I don't know where you stand on childcare Julie, but at my youngest's, there's an Olympic mum who drives me nuts with her competitiveness. She's decided that I care about her benchmarks; I don't. I'm polite but if she stayed into telling me how to raise my kids, well, I hope I'm as restrained and mature as you (I really do).

homepaddock said...

"Why do we do this to each other, this Olympic mothering?"

I don't know why but I hope you can take heart from my favourite piece of parenting advice: it takes a lot of slow to grow (from a poem by Eve Merriam) - offered with the knowledge that sometimes in some fammilies it doesn't suit to be slow.

M-H said...

It's really pathetic when people get competitive about their kids' acheivements. It's always seemed to me to be a real clue that they really suspect (in some deep and seret corner of themselves) there's something wrong with *their* parenting. A confident parent doesn't need to criticise others' ways of child rearing. I'm afraid I'm inclined to be quite dismissive of people like this : "Oh, really, why would you think that?" delivered politely, will often confound them. And if they persist, a firm 'We all have our own ways of bringing up our kids, don't we?" followed by a change of subject. Please don't let them upset you!

Anonymous said...

Giovanni - my #1 is taking a very idiosyncratic path through childhood and when I foolishly buy into the competitive child rearing I swing so fast between big-headed pride and quivering fear that I get sea-sick.

It's far more fun when I can just appreciate my boy in all his odd glory.

muerk said...

I haven't really struck much competetiveness with other mothers. But then my lot are a bit like a tidal wave all together. The four of them just kind of rove arounding like a rolling maul of dirt, insects, noise and bits of wood/string/plastic.

I suspect other mothers are just quietly thankful for their small family and they never get around to commenting on mine :)

Paul said...


Anonymous said...

XXXpat, thanks for that :)

Muerk, possibly they fear that if they criticise your parenting you'll make them babysit. I can just imagine you offering to sit back and make suggestions while they do so much better than you ever could. The "rolling maul of mess" description sums it up admirably.

I still treasure the memory of the bouncy beepy flashing balls that your mob went slightly more wild about, while fat b'stard's partner said "we will lose this now" in most aggrieved tones. I love giving presents like that to other people's kids :)


muerk said...

There's a definite advantage to have an entire brood of children.

You end up with this kind of detachment from needing things like clean furniture and a stainless carpet. And once you've let go of that stuff, you just chill out and let the kids go for it.

And sure there are holes in my lawn and pet snails around the house, but my kids are having a ball. Actually I think the older boys have made an ants nest in a jar in their bedroom - must look into that!

Occasionally they experiment with drawing all over themselves, margerine as a solvent will get off most paint. James once smothered himself in peanut butter - which btw use liquid soap to clean off because if you use a block of soap all the peanut butter sticks to it and you're just back where you started.

And often they're naked bceause well, they take off all their clothes. OTOH this is a good thing because skin doesn't require a washing machine. OTOH your garden does get full of naked painted children chasing each other...

The one thing I wouldn't mind though is getting them to be baby sat by the tv, instead they watch a little bit and then race off to play it out. Four jedis running around with lightsabers yelling orders at invisble clones whilst being attacked by invisible droids is a bit mad, especially when they force-jump off the couch (which gets a telling off).

Yup, the only issue I have with other mothers is that they drop off their kids to play and then I end up with more jedis :)