i know what you mean!

doing it by the book…

Posted on: October 10, 2012

… is not my style.  First it would requires a lot of consistency…

  But with a lot of effort, I know am capable of being consistent – and even so – I still wouldn’t want to do things by the book, especially when it comes to raising my children. 

God knows I read enough books the first 6 months of May’s life to make me go blind.  Whenever I’m in a crisis, I’m always on the constant hunt for information, thinking that if I can’t fix it, at least I find solace in knowing about it as much as I can.  After Son’s nephew was born, I said I would come up with a reading list for my sister in law to help her feel less scared as first time mom.  I spent 2 weeks stalling, and finally I think I sent her 2 titles.  The other books I have read, I can’t recall them anymore, and even if I can, I can’t just name 3 or 5.  I would have to name like 20+

The thing with reading is, I don’t think reading a few will ever mean anything.  If I start reading on this subject of child development, I would have to read them all, and constantly update myself on the latest.  It’s continuing education.  That’s why you want to know that your doctor is on top of the latest research findings and recommendations, that he attends conferences and seminars, subscribes to and actually reads medical journals…  Maybe not only the most current and trendy ones, but the obscure and pushing the envelope ones as well…

When I watch May selecting her clothes and changing herself, I remember that I was dressed by adults until I was at least 4 or 5 years old.  I remember still asking my mom for permission to wear this or that outfit up until I was in 5th grade.  One day I noticed that the positive rate of response was something like 100%, so I just gave up asking, and my mom didn’t say a word.  I was bathed by someone else until I was in 2nd grade or something like that.  My life was basically dictated by others for a long time.  Yet I grew up to be very independent and self sufficient, as did my other siblings.  Some parents proudly proclaim that they let their children make all the decisions when it comes to clothing themselves etc. etc., and I just shrug inside.  So what.  It doesn’t mean anything until I see those kids grow up.  Just like you always wonder how come those crazy irresponsible abusive parents spawned wonderful kids who turn out to be great compassionate, reasonable, successful adults.  It’s tough to tell. 

Some stuffs I do to May, I do it out of necessity.  Like teaching May to dress herself or wash herself or read by herself this year, it’s because I’m anticipating her brother’s arrival.  But I’m pretty sure I’ll still be doing those things for her more than 1/2 of the time still, but just to have a plan for her is nice.  We have this talk weekly about the exchange of May’s cooperation for valuable 1-on-1 play time.  I promise her I will devote alone time with her daily even when the baby comes, but in return, there will be times when she has to do things for herself instead of waiting for me, that way I can get other things done so I can spend alone time with her.  It’s practicality for me, not because some guru dictates that the Western way of raising children to be independent is the best.  I’m not even sure independence is the best for my kid at this age.  I’d rather have her feel her smallness and helplessness, doubt the world a little more, weary of strangers just the way she is right now…. The other day, a guest lecturer at May’s school told us parents that one of the children at the school could come up to another child at the playground to introduce herself, “Hello, my name is _______, can I play with you?”  to the lecturer, that’s a WOW achievement, it shows confidence in the child.  But that’s probably that child’s personality as well.  Katie (May’s cousin) could do that at 3, she talked to complete strangers and totally introduced herself and family or whatever, she just likes to talk and have others interact with her.  I can don’t see it as part of May’s characteristic, but who is to say that my child is less confident than the other child?  It’s difficult to just observe one thing at one given moment and come up with the whole picture.  Sometimes it makes me laugh because I would see a friend post something personal to share, and the next thing I saw, there would be a litany of advises pouring out from veteran moms, dads, and even people who don’t have children, all sprouting wisdom I have already read in books somewhere during those 6 months of sleep deprived nights.

My sister used to repeat this mantra to me, like a broken record: “you never know what’s really going on beneath the appearance of things!”  I think after about 10 times, I got it.  Now I too say, yeah, you never know what’s really going on.  Like the dad who made beautiful baby books for his daughters with loving letters for them, except the grown daughters showed me all the holes he punched through the walls at their house in his anger.  A person can say, do, and believe in totally different things.

I think I’m just trying to unload this nagging annoyance that has been in the back of my mind from having to listen to some stuffs vet moms fed into my sister in law, who’s an exhausted first time mom of a soon to be 2 month old.  Things like people saying to her (without asking where she stands or what her preferences are), don’t just breastfeed your baby on demand so much, he’s eating too much.  Make him wait longer between meals.  Let him cry a bit.  Don’t hold him all the time….  I actually know people who were inexperienced and stressed out enough to take comments like these to heart, and then later on regrets greatly on their decisions afterward.  I think the more tactful way to give advise would have been to ask “what are your goals (do you have any?)? What are the problems that are getting in the way of your goals?  Here are the solutions I know of that might address your problems, as well as consequences that might arise once you implement those solutions.  If you want to find out more for yourself, I encourage you to look at these resources….”





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