I never thought I’d be one of those types of parents. You know, the kind that just do everything for their little one in order to make certain their little one is successful. Those types annoy me, honestly.
Before kids, my husband and I were SSOOOO certain what kind of parents we’d be. We’d be cool and laid back. We’d let our little ones learn from their experiences, and not keep them in a bubble to protect them. We wouldn’t finish their homework for them or do their science projects for them. How would they learn if we did that? How would they become confident in their own abilities to accomplish things on their own? How would they become motivated in the future to do things in a timely fashion if they didn’t learn the disappointment of failure?
It was all so easy and logical to know that this is how life would be as a parent.
It’s never that easy, is it?
Right now, I feel the tug of the image of what I thought I’d be and what my knee jerk reaction is. Jaina is officially potty training. We got the thumbs up from her school to start dropping her off wearing panties (making sure to pack a few extra pairs, and extra pants, and socks, and shoes…I packed 6 of each…).
We were so thrilled to start this process and so we set up a plan to include additional positive reinforcement for her successes; a.k.a. bribery. Whatever. Don’t judge. We got a large calendar and some large smiley stickers. Each day she stayed dry at school she would get to put a smiley sticker on that day. In addition we got a small (read – quite large, actually) box of cheap toys and suckers that she gets to pick an item from when she gets a new sticker on the board. (FYI – Target $1 bins are fantastic places to shop for not too big but not too small motivational positive reinforcement items.)
Her first day she had 4 accidents and several successes. Her dad confessed to me that he nearly broke down when she asked for a sticker and toy, then bursting into tears when she was informed she couldn’t have one.
I probably would have too, though.
The second day I got the honor of picking her up from school and before I barely got through the door she had leaped into my arms announcing “Mommy, I dry! I get new toy! Let’s go home!”
She was successful all day. I was so happy. As we left, the teacher informed her to remember that if she also stayed dry at home, they would have a special treat for her the next day.
So here’s where I am tempted to become one of those parents striving for their child to be successful at all costs. She had an accident that evening at home. When I dropped her off at school the next day I was surprised at how much I let it hurt me to tell the teacher when she asked. I think I was successful at hiding any disappointment. I think…I hope…
Moving on…(sometimes its better to do that than dwell, right?)
And as I sit and watch her on the camera playing in her classroom today, I keep catching myself trying to see if she’s still wearing the same pants, or really really wishing I could go pick her up RIGHT NOW, not because I really miss her or something, but mostly because I want to take her home before she has an accident so she can continue her streak of no accidents.
But that’s not fair. I know that. I logically know this, yet my mommy heart yearns so bad for her to not experience any pain or failure or disappointment. For now, my logical brain wins out. I hope this discomfort I’m feeling works just as well at teaching me an important lesson as J’s potty successes and failures do to teach her. So that one day, when something really big comes along, I can confidently watch her face it head on, on her own, and stay proud of my strong independent daughter.