Well enough?

Saw two kids with their mom in the park today. Didn’t know their exact ages, the boy was probably 5 or 6, and the girl was like two years younger. The mother seemed to be criticizing his son for some misbehavior when I first noticed them, but it didn’t impress me until the mother started talking even more impatiently to the girl. I tried not to pay much attention, although I was a little shocked by both her words and her tone and I am generally interested in how other parents communicate with their kids. Now in retrospect I realize it’s just me expecting that everyone else is a more loving understanding patient parent. Then at the next crossroad that mother caught my attention again by yelling at her daughter, who immediately started to cry. One thing led to another. The mother became more irritated and reached out to her daughter, not sure what she actually did, but just heard her saying to her son “I’m not gonna hurt her.” The next moment, when I turned to look at them again, the girl was already in her mum’s arms, crying more furiously and stuggling to get down. Apparently it was not a loving grab.

So what’s wrong about all that? It just reminded me of so many terrible moments I had had myself, when the baby’s tantrum just drove me crazy or even made me want to cry. Now again I was lost in the recurring question of how well I had been doing with parenting. “Am I truly a loving mother?” “Why do I lose my temper and yell at my baby sometimes?” “Should I have spent more time with him?” Our little boy had lately become very demanding, and I kept asking myself: would it have been better or worse if we had given him a lot of attention from the very beginning of his infancy? Put it another way, do babies ever get enough of parents’ attention, or they would just never stop asking for more? I guess there’s no chance that could ever be answered. I doubt any expert advice or any parenting book could provide an absolutely right way to deal with a specific child, just because all people are different and we don’t even fully understand ourselves as adults, let alone the baby brains which are even harder to communicate.

Yet another thought chimed in, which was Julian, a colleague’s theory of parents always tending to guilt themselves. Just earlier this afternoon, I was watching videos of the little one from a few months back and realized that he had had much more smiles and laughs then. Or maybe it’s just this special stage of his life he is or we together are going through.

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