Friday, January 16, 2009

The forest you do not see

I was having dinner last night with a group of friends when the topic of kindergarten came up.
Most of M's friends fall very close to the cut-off for starting the school year, which in California is December 1. This means that if you have your birthday before December 1, you may start kindergarten, even though you will be four and the rest of the kids will be five. You will turn five in the first few months, but you will still be nearly a year behind the oldest students.

A friend, whose daughter is already close to the cut-off date and will therefore be one of the youngest in her class, was detailing her plan to send her daughter at the age of four to a couple years of school, then have her skip second grade so that when she switches from private to public education, she can go straight into the GATE program (Gifted and Talented Education).

Seriously? Already got your daughter set up to skip a grade, even though she will already be months and months younger the kids in her class? Seriously?

But then, maybe we don't each see how our little interests or obsessions or idiosyncrasies are setting our children up for therapy later in life. Because we are all--mostly--trying to do our very best. I'm sure she feels that her daughter will easily be up to the challenge, and that this push is really better for her daughter. I'm sure she probably thinks that I am too easy on my kids, or that I'm making them germ-phobics, or that I don't push them to be physically adept.

Also, we all see so little of how other people parent their children--and vice versa--that it becomes very easy to pinpoint "problems" in other peoples' methods. But it's like picking out one book from a person's bookshelf and defining them solely based on your selection. The book may complement or challenge the whole. The book may be indicative of a person or the lone exception.

I sometimes feel that I have a heightened awareness for how I am judged by the very few glimpses people have of my whole. Perhaps it's because I'm shy and self-conscious that I constantly pick up on feelings such as "I shouted at my kid so they must think I yell all the time" or "My kid's got chocolate on his/her face and therefore must eat sweets often." I end up inwardly reminding myself why my actions are the exception to the rule, why it doesn't matter what rule others think I follow anyway, or why I broke my own rule in the first place.

But last night, I was the one making that same leap, the one I'm so sensitive about. I'm glad I kept my mouth shut. I'm glad I kept myself open to the fact that I was seeing only a small piece of the whole. I hope others, sometimes, offer me the same grace when I feel those eyes upon my back. And I hope that I truly don't care whether they do or not.

1 comment:

feistywon said...

Great insights in this blog!