Saturday, November 20, 2010


We spend the first 1-2 years of our children's lives proving to them that they are indeed the center of the world...then the rest of their lives trying to convince them that they are not. This hit me strongly last night as the kid and I were on a "momma date" with a friend and her kiddo. We were at Monkey Joe's (kid place with bouncy house things all over the place. It's actually really great and I didn't feel overwhelmed at any point. Which, after a traumatic visit to Chuck-E-Cheese last year, is saying a lot.) and the kid was having a big ole time. He climbed up into one of the bouncy-thingies (that's actually the technical name for them, just so you know), and found a little perch, where he could see and be seen by those below. And then he started to do what he does - be cute and attempt to get everyone's attention. He was waving and saying "hello", not being obnoxious or anything, just overly friendly. And no one, save me, was paying him any attention because they were all paying attention to their own (slightly less) adorable children. He started looking perplexed, though persisted for several minutes. Finally, it seemed to dawn on him that no one was going to respond. I was afraid his feelings were going to be hurt, but mostly he just seemed confused. He recovered quickly, as children do, and ran off to play.

But I mean, think about it. If, for your whole life you've believed 1 thing (that you will always get everyone's attention because you're adorable and articulate), to be presented with a conflicting piece of evidence is rather disconcerting. And for the kid, to see that baby E is now so much the center of attention, where the kid used to be all by himself, how confusing it must be.

And I wonder, how as parents do we support our kids through this change. Infants are the center of the world, right? They have to be in some ways because they are so very dependent on us for everything. Also, they are incapable of seeing outside of themselves because, well, that's just how they're wired. So, how, after a year or more (try 4.5yrs for the kid) of being the center, do we as parents help our kiddos realize that they are only a tiny part of the world? And, though they are often still the center of our little families, should they be? Is that best for them, is it even best for a marriage, to have children at the center of everything? Shouldn't our goal be to teach our children that they are no more/no less important than any other member of our family, any other person in our world?

While that may not be the pop culture view of a parent's job (which seems to be more like bestowing the "my kid is the best/smartest/most advanced/etc... in the world" mentality), I think it's where I lie. So, yes, I do think my kid is the cutest in the world. However, I totally realize that I am slightly biased and it is likely not reality that he is the cutest kid in the entire world, even though he is in my eyes.

And, I think it's important for him to know that he isn't the most/best. And that inversely means that he is not the least/worst at anything either. And no, I don't think my kid is mediocre. And yes, I do think he is capable of big things. Actually, I expect big things of him. I expect him to change the world. I just don't expect him to not make mistakes while doing it. It seems to me that when we'll teach our children that they are the center of the world, we set them up for failure. If I think I'm the best, then I can do no wrong. This leads to self-centeredness - not a trait I want my kid to develop. Or, I get so immobilized by fear of messing up, that I just don't even try - also not what I want for my kid.

So, all I know to do to help the kid come to terms with not being the center of the universe, is give him opportunities in his life to succeed, and allow him to fail. And be there throughout it all, letting him know that I love him whichever side he falls on, also that I expect him to care for others, not just himself. Sigh...if only it was that clear cut.

Today's lesson - apparently the baby not sleeping at night thing is the easy part of this whole parenting gig. Go figure.

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