When Husband and I went to our very first Parents’ Evening, when Eldest was all of 4, we were told by the elderly and almost retiring reception teacher (Christian name Critchell, a seriously frightening woman to parents, but who was very fond of small girls) that our daughter didn’t take criticism well. We didn’t actually climb over the desk to hit her, but I fear we clearly demonstrated where she got it from. At last week’s meeting with the secondary school teachers, where we had once more gone to talk about Eldest, but this time about her GCSE prospects, and what she should be doing for AS level, we were told that she had a wicked sense of humour, but it was very cynical. We tried not to think about where she got that. It was the only ‘criticism’ we collected.
We are regularly informed that Youngest is bossy. At primary school this was definitely a criticism and deemed to be a potential friendship problem. At secondary school they see it as a plus to be channeled into the school council or anything else that needs a reliable decision maker and ‘doer’. Youngest throws herself into almost anything with immense enthusiasm and willingness to please, but no tolerance for people who aren’t trying.
I’ve said before that parenting does not get easier, just different. I remember potty training as ghastly, but, since I didn’t know anyone who hadn’t mastered the art in the end, I did at least understand at some level that it would all be over eventually! Now the difficulties of parenthood are generally more about emotional than physical things. The guiding hand, and the parental worry, is about friends – or lack of them. About whether they are making the ‘right’ choices about subjects, and doing well enough in them, to lead to the career of choice – whatever that might be!
I know we have to let Eldest do what she wants to do, and if we ‘push’ any particular plan it is liable to backfire – she may be sensible but even she likes to get her own way and not be seen to be doing what her aged parents approve of all the time!
And I’ve no doubt that this too will pale into insignificance when we’re trying to provide useful advice about whether he’s the man of her dreams, worth giving up her career for! Perhaps life will be different then, but I doubt it. We will still be trying to decide how we should run our relationships, who’s job it is to do the washing (mine) and the ironing (his) and how best to raise children (and who should do it).
Our toughest task, I’m sure, is going to be learning to let go.
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