Friday, 2 October 2009

The One Where I Don't Get Other Parents

So The Daughter started school three weeks ago and I had to mingle with Other Parents. When Sartre said hell is other people, he obviously had not met Other Parents otherwise he wouldn't have been so generic.

I'm not entirely sure what to do with them and what I consider to be their bizarre parenting actions. Allow me to explain.

On the first day, The Archaeologist and I did the dutiful parent thing and took The Daughter to school and went with her to her classroom. Once she'd found her peg and name to put on the wall, she waved us off cheerily and away we went, pushing through the throngs of wailing children and weeping parents.

On the second day, The Daughter politely informed me that I didn't need to go in with her as she knew where she was going and besides, she was a Big Girl now. Quite right too so again, cheery waving and away I went, pushing past wailing children and weeping parents.

On the third day, there were barely any wailing children yet still the Other Parents were taking their little darlings into the classroom, taking their coats off for them and generally fussing.

Three weeks later and they're STILL doing it. I'm at a loss to understand why. Do they have so little faith in their children's ability to perform simple tasks like taking off a coat??

But then you hear how they talk to The Little Darlings. It's all very nice and polite. All asking and no telling.

"Can you please not push that child over [insert horribly trendy middle class name like Alfie here]? It's not very nice is it?"

"Oh he's full of high spirits today!" as said high spirited child is running around screaming and generally being irritating.

There's no telling off, no discipline, blindness to the fact that their cosseted darling is behaving badly. But then here's the amazing thing - I'm asked how I get The Daughter to behave and do things for herself and eat all her food without fussing, like it's some kind of nuclear secret.

The thing is, there isn't a secret. I simply tell her what to do and she does it. If she doesn't then she knows she'll be in trouble. She eats all her food because she knows if she doesn't there's nothing else until the next meal. I know parents who've made up to six different meals in order to get their child to eat what amounts to a full one. Surely this is lunacy? Why teach them that they can have whatever whim they decide on? Why teach them that they're the ones who can call the shots?

I don't know whether it's because the Other Parents are older (or seem it at least) than me. I don't know whether it's because they've read every 'parenting manual' (dear Jeebus, don't get me started on those...) ever published and their heads are filled with so much conflicting information that they have lost all capability of thinking for themselves.

What I do know though is that for all intents and purposes, how they parent is none of my business and they've probably had the same thoughts about me. I just hope they don't ask me for any more advice!

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