When I was pregnant with my first child I remember feeling excited about all the wonderful ‘first’ moments I was going to experience. In my fantasy I would teach my child new skills as she grew – passing on my knowledge and experience to her – and it would be a wonderful bonding experience for both of us. . .
I thought about this when I was trying to teach my middle child how to ride her bike without stabilisers. ‘Am I supposed to be enjoying this?’ I thought to myself after about an hour. I was feeling sweaty, my back hurt and my patience was wearing thin. To be fair, she was doing quite well, but I was finding it difficult to comprehend how she could ride on her own one minute but then would wobble and fall off the next. In my head I was screaming ‘surely you’ve got it now?’, as I smiled enthusiastically through gritted teeth, trying desperately to calm my fraying nerves. I confess that I wasn’t able to marvel at the wonder of my daughter learning a new skill at all.
This is not the first time I have felt this way. I recall vividly the struggles I had with my eldest daughter when she was learning to read. ‘Here’s a book for you to share at home,’ the teachers would say, when in reality I had to force/bribe her to read them, and when we did try to read them, the majority of the time it would end in tears and tantrums. I am the first to admit that patience is not my strong point and I know for a fact that I could never be a teacher. So why do the teachers expect me to teach my child at home? Isn’t that what I send them to school for?
Of course you do have those ‘moments’; the first steps, the first time they go to school, the first time you see them perform in a concert. But the pride you feel at these moments comes more from the realisation of how much they have grown in confidence, not from anything that you have taught them.
I realise through having three children that no two experiences are ever the same and whilst my elder daughter had a wobbly start to school, my second child sailed through it. Whilst my younger daughter has found riding her bike a struggle, her elder sister had no problems whatsoever, so I guess it’s all just a balancing act. I am waiting to see what ‘treats’ my youngest has in store for us as he develops. Am I ready to go through all this again? Probably not, but perhaps this time around I will be able to adopt a more relaxed stance and take it as it comes. After all, he is my third and final child, so I have to enjoy every moment, knowing that once it’s done, that’s it.